Friday, June 30, 2017

Black Unsung Heroes of Independence Day - Lafayette, James Armistead (1760-1832)

Lafayette, James Armistead (1760-1832)
James Armistead [Lafayette] was an African American spy during the American Revolution. Born in Virginia as a slave to William Armistead in 1760, he volunteered to join the Army in 1781. After gaining the consent of his owner, Armistead was stationed to serve under the Marquis de Lafayette, the commander of French forces allied with the American Continental Army.  Lafayette employed Armistead as a spy.  While working for Lafayette he successfully infiltrated British General Charles Cornwallis's headquarters posing as a runaway slave hired by the British to spy on the Americans.

While pretending to be a British spy, Armistead gained the confidence of General Benedict Arnold and General Cornwallis. Arnold was so convinced of Armistead's pose as a runaway slave that he used him to guide British troops through local roads. Armistead often traveled between camps, spying on British officers, who spoke openly about their strategies in front of him. Armistead documented this information in written reports, delivered them to other American spies, and then return to General Cornwallis's camp.

In the summer of 1781, General George Washington sent a message to General Lafayette, instructing him to keep his forces strong and to inform him of Cornwallis's equipment, military personnel, and future strategies.  Lafayette sent several spies to infiltrate Cornwallis's camp, yet none proved able to produce valuable information for him until he received Armistead's reports dated July 31, 1781. The information in these reports helped Lafayette trap the British at Hampton. Later that summer Armistead's reports helped the Americans win the battle at Yorktown, prompting the British to surrender.

To learn more about this amazing black unsung hero of Independence Day, visit is dedicated to providing the inquisitive public with comprehensive, reliable, and accurate information concerning the history of African Americans in the United States and people of African ancestry in other regions of the world. It is the aim of the founders and sponsors to foster understanding through knowledge in order to generate constructive change in our society.