We’re celebrating black heroes who made history, and I want to introduce you to James Armistead, an enslaved African American spy during the American Revolution. Armistead was born into slavery in Virginia around 1748. In 1781, he volunteered to join the U.S. Army and enlisted in the Revolutionary War.
He served under Marquis de Lafayette, the commander of allied French forces. Armistead was employed as a spy. At great personal risk, Armistead has posed as a runaway slave and pretended to be a British spy, all the while gaining the confidence of General Benedict Arnold and General Charles Cornwallis. The officers spoke freely in front of Armistead concerning their strategies. Armistead’s reports documented the movements of the British, giving General Washington all that he needed to bring about a swift end to the war, saving innumerable American lives.
The ending of the American Revolution with the victory at Yorktown and the capture of General Cornwallis, from a historical perspective, is attributed to General Washington and his troops. However, this was only made possible because of the information gained by James Armistead, and we should celebrate him for his patriotic actions.