French town rebuilds frigate of U.S. revolutionary war hero

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ROCHEFORT, France: Piece by piece, a graceful structure of whimsy and magic is taking shape in this old river port, fulfilling the dream of a group of sea-faring Frenchmen to pay tribute to a founding father of French-American friendship.

For a decade now, historians, carpenters, boat builders, craftsmen and blacksmiths have lovingly - if slowly - sought to recreate the Hermione, the 44-meter, or 145-foot, 32-gun, three-masted frigate that in 1780 carried a young French nobleman known as the Marquis de Lafayette on a 38-day voyage to Boston.

Lafayette already had made his reputation two years before, fighting for the cause of American liberty alongside General George Washington against the British. The mission this time was to inform the general that King Louis XVI would send half a dozen ships and 5,000 infantry soldiers to help the rebels.

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