James Lafayette

James Lafayette was born into slavery in Virginia around 1748* and grew up on a plantation in Virginia. James was owned by William Armistead, who allowed him to become a servant to the Marquis de Lafayette’s French Allied units in 1781.

James became a spy and double agent. Posing as a runaway slave, he gained access to British General Charles Cornwallis’s headquarters, sharing valuable information with the Patriots while misleading the British.

Despite his contributions to the war, James was forced back into enslavement after America gained independence. With Marquis de Lafayette’s support after years of petitioning, he finally received his freedom in 1787 and added Lafayette to his name as a token of gratitude.

Receiving a pension in 1819, James bought a farm, married, and raised a family until his death. His bravery and contributions to the Patriot cause demonstrate resilience and determination.