Life of James Armistead

Timeline created by TaeeunK
In History
  • Birth

    James Armistead was born in New Kent, Virginia, as a slave to William Armistead.
  • Start of the American Revolution

    Start of the American Revolution
    The American Revolution officially started with the Battle of Lexington and Concord. If the revolution didn't start in the first place, Armistead probably would have lived his whole life as a slave. He probably wouldn't have had the chance to serve as spy and become such a significant figure. The American Revolution was a turning point in his life.
  • Valuable Reports to the Americans

    Valuable Reports to the Americans
    Lafayette recieved a report dated July 31, 1781 from Armistead. This report consisted of the British troop's movement which later helped the Americans gain victory at Yorktown.
  • Victory at Yorktown

    Victory at Yorktown
    Cornwallis surrendered, and the Americans won the battle of Yorktown with Armistead's useful information. Armistead was later praised for his contribution to the battle.
  • Emancipation

    Armistead received emancipation with General Lafayette's help. He made "Lafayette" his last name in honor of the General.
  • Life after the Emancipation

    Life after the Emancipation
    Armistead bought lands and started farming. He became a farmer and later owned slaves too.
  • Marriage

    James Armistead married and raised a large family. He lived near New Kent, Virginia, with his wife and children.
  • Death

    Armistead died at the age of around 70 in New Kent, Virginia.
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    Joining the Cause of the Revolution

    After receiving consent from his master, he joined the cause of the revolution. He was positioned as a spy under General Lafayette of the American Continental Army.
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    Spying on Benedict Arnold

    First, Armistead was ordered to spy on General Benedict Arnold, the former American General who became a traitor.
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    Benedict Arnold's Departure

    Arnold's departure from the British camp left Armistead no one to spy on. This event caused Armistead to start spying on Cornwallis's troop instead.
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    Working as a Double Spy

    After infiltrating into the British camps posing as a runaway slave, as time went by, Armistead gained trust from General Cornwallis of the British Army. Cornwallis positioned Armistead to serve as spy for the British. This marked the beginning of his job as a double spy, and it allowed him to travel through both camps without suspicion.
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    Message from George Washington

    Washington sent a message to Lafayette asking for information on Cornwallis's strategies. Even though Lafayette sent several spies to infiltrate into British camps to obtain information, none proved as useful as Armistead. This event proved Armistead important to the Americans.
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    Blocking the British Reinforcements

    Washington and Lafayette were able to block the British reinforcements to Yorktown with Armistead's reports of the British troop's movements.
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    The Act of 1783

    The Act of 1783 for slave-soldiers restricted Armistead from gaining emancipation. He was considered a slave-spy.
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    Return to Home

    Armistead returned to William Armistead and continued his life as a slave after the revolution.
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    Lafayette's Requisition for Armistead's Freedom

    Lafayette wrote to the Virginia General Assembly and asked for Armistead's emancipation. It was unsuccessful.
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    Second Requisition for Freedom

    Another requisition asking for Armistead's emancipation was sent. This time it was successful.
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    Applying for Financial Aid

    Armistead applied to the state legislature for financial aid. He received $60 for present relief and $40 annual pension for his services in the Revolutionary War.
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    Armistead was recognized by General Lafayette when the General made his final visit to America.