James Armistead – August 17, 1777

Experience the American dream with today’s Patriots of the Past interview. I’m your host, John Gillespie.

It’s August 17, 1777. I’m at the headquarters of General Lafayette with Patriot spy James Armistead.

JG: “Mr. Armistead, why do you risk your life in the American fight for freedom?”

JA: “Mr. Gillespie, over five thousand of my African American brothers are serving in the Continental Army. We do so because we hope to live in a land that allows all its people to be free. Hopefully, my spine will help the Patriot cause and make this a land of liberty.”

The efforts of James Armistead, and thousands like him, did help make America a land of the free.

In New Kent, Virginia, the James Lafayette historical marker reads, “James Lafayette was born in slavery about 1748 near here. His master, William Armistead, was commissary of military supplies when, in the summer of 1781, the Marquis de Lafayette recruited James as a spy. Posing as a double agent, forager, and servant at British headquarters, James moved freely between the lines with vital information on British troop movements for Lafayette. The Virginia General Assembly freed James in 1787 in recognition of his bravery and service, on the written recommendation of Lafayette, whose name he took for his own. He died in Baltimore on 9 Aug., 1830.”

John and Jan Gillespie are the founders of the Rawhide Boys’ Ranch; they have fostered 351 teenagers and wrote the book Our 351 Sons; they have also assisted numerous churches in developing youth programs and expanding their total church ministries. After running for U.S. Senate, John founded 1776 American Dream, which exists to demonstrate the vision of our founding fathers and help our generation of youth passionately embrace those values.

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