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American Revolution
James Armistead Lafayette



James Armistead Lafayette
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.03

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    prosperous, traces, wartime, intelligent, camps, presented, slavery, cunning, bravery, immediately, supplying, colonial, fate, fairly, slave, ownership
     content words:    James Armistead, William Armistead, Revolutionary War, General Cornwallis, Continental Army, General Lafayette, When Cornwallis, Virginia Legislature


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James Armistead Lafayette
By Jane Runyon
  

1     In the colonies, slavery was a practice believed in by many and detested by many. African natives were kidnapped and brought to the new land. Here they were sold to plantation owners who worked them but didn't pay them. All traces of their African heritage were to be ignored in this new land. All slaves were given new names. It was the practice of many slave owners to choose a new first name for their slaves and then use their own last name to show ownership. One such slave was James Armistead. He was owned by William Armistead of Virginia.
 
2     James was an intelligent man. He presented himself well to the white colonists that he had to deal with. When the Revolutionary War began, he felt that he had to do his part. He requested that his owner allow him to volunteer to fight in the war with the promise that he would return to the plantation when the fighting was over. His request was granted. His wartime experiences began by supplying food to the troops being led by the Marquis de Lafayette.
 
3     As fate would have it, Lafayette had just come up with a plan to give his troops an edge against the forces of General Cornwallis. His plan was a good one, but it was lacking just one thing. He needed a spy. He needed someone who could become a part of the British camp and not attract attention. If a spy were found in those days, they were immediately hanged. He needed someone who would not be suspected. Some of Lafayette's men suggested that he talk to James Armistead. James would make a perfect spy. He was smart enough to understand what the enemy was planning. He had the perfect excuse for being in their camp. He would try to sell them food. He would be able to convince the British he was on their side by telling them he had run away from slavery and hated the colonists.

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