During the American Revolutionary War, James Armistead Lafayette was a spy for the “American Continental Army.” He was an African-American slave. After James volunteered for the “American Continental Army” and his master, William Armistead, gave his OK, he was sent to work for Marquis de Lafayette, who was in charge of the allied French forces. He was called a spy by Lafayette. First, he had to keep track of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, who was with the “American Continental Army” at first but left to join the British Army later. He was very good at pretending to be a British spy. So good, in fact, that Arnold asked him to lead the British army through the area’s roads. During the “Siege of Yorktown,” he was a spy for Lafayette and pretended to be a runaway slave to gain the trust of the British lord and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. As he moved between British camps, he was able to get information easily because British officers talked about their plans without being shy. He would put together detailed written reports and give them to other American spies. Through his spying, he helped the American forces win the “Battle of Yorktown.”
Early years and childhood
James Armistead Lafayette was born a slave to William Armistead, who was his owner. Some sources say he was born on December 10, 1748, on the farm of William Armistead in Virginia’s New Kent County. Other sources say he was born on December 10, 1760, in Virginia’s Elizabeth City.
James Lafayette’s Career
James Armistead Lafayette joined the “American Continental Army” during the American Revolutionary War in 1781, after getting permission from his owner.
He was sent to work for Marquis de Lafayette, who was in charge of the French forces working with the allies. Lafayette made him a spy so he could find out how the enemies were moving and use that information strategically.
First, he was told to report on Brigadier General Benedict Arnold’s movements. Arnold was a deserter who had been in the “American Continental Army” but left to join the British Army. After he joined Arnold’s camp, he pretended to be a British spy to gain Arnold’s trust. Arnold liked him so much that he asked him to lead the British army through the local roads.
After that, he worked as a spy for Lafayette again during the “Siege of Yorktown,” which took place from September 28 to October 19, 1781. He pretended to be a runaway slave and won the trust of Lord Charles Cornwallis and Lieutenant General Cornwallis.
As he moved between British camps, he was able to get information easily because British officers talked about their plans without being shy. He would put together detailed written reports and give them to other American spies.
In this way, he gave the Americans a lot of important strategic information that helped them win the “Battle of Yorktown.”
In 1782, a law called the Emancipation Act was passed in Virginia. It freed slaves who had served in the army in place of their masters. Even though he did a lot to help win the war, he couldn’t get his freedom because he was a slave spy and not a slave soldier. So, William Armistead continued to own him.
In 1784, the Marquis de Lafayette helped him by writing a letter about what he had done for the war effort. James Armistead Lafayette asked for his freedom at the “Virginia Assembly” with the help of his owner, William Armistead, who had become a member of the “House of Delegates” by that time.
On January 9, 1787, the “Virginia Assembly” agreed to what he asked for. To show his gratitude to Marquis de Lafayette, he added Lafayette’s last name to his own, making him James Armistead Lafayette from then on.
After that, he moved to New Kent County, where he bought forty acres of land and began farming.
Around 1818, after he asked the state assembly for help with money, he was given $60 as immediate relief. For his work during the “American Revolution,” the Virginia legislature also gave him a pension of $40 per year.
Works of note
The Marquis de Lafayette and General George Washington were able to stop the British army from sending 10,000 more soldiers to Yorktown because of his spying and the detailed report he gave them. The British were surprised by the barrier that the French and American troops put up. This led to the victory of the Marquis de Lafayette and General George Washington at Yorktown, and on October 19, 1781, the British gave up.
Personal History and Legacies
After he was set free, he got married and had a big family. On August 9, 1830, he passed away.
Estimated Net worth
James is one of the wealthiest War Heroes and is on the list of the most well-known War Heroes. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, James Armistead Lafayette has a net worth of about $1.5 million.
When Marquis de Lafayette came to the United States in 1824 at the request of President James Monroe, he was greeted as a hero by large crowds in every state he visited. During one of these trips to Virginia, he saw James Armistead Lafayette in the crowd and jumped out of his carriage to shake his hand.