James_Armistead_Research_Paper - ` Berkeley Preparatory School The Hidden Revolutionary Spy James Armistead and his impact on America Adrian Winkelman

James_Armistead_Research_Paper - ` Berkeley Preparatory...

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` Berkeley Preparatory School The Hidden Revolutionary Spy James Armistead and his impact on America Adrian Winkelman Honors U.S. History A Block Dr. Olson 12 November 2019 The American Revolution was undeniably speaking one of the most important events for our country granting us our independence. While there were many great well-known figures that
Winkelman 1 contributed to the Revolutionary War, there were also many obscure characters that were unknown that played a vital role in America's success. Of these obscure characters, some of them were soldiers, generals, politicians, and more, but none played a more significant role than spies. Spies served as extremely important assets in a war allowing for one to gain intelligence about the enemy and to stay one step ahead of them throughout the whole war, until victory. Therefore, there is no less significant spy than James Armistead. James Armistead was a slave under his master William Armistead in the state of Virginia. With the permission of his master, James was allowed to join the Continental Army under the command of the French general Marquis de Lafayette. Of course, a good spy must be able to gain the trust of his enemy and obtain resourceful information which Armistead managed to do quite well. Additionally, throughout the time period, there were very few ideas of equality and modern-day liberal ideas, however, that slightly began to change as a result of Armistead’s actions. Throughout the course of the American Revolution, the revolutionary spy, James Armistead drastically determined the course of the War through his work helping secure key information to provide American victories, thorough gaining the trust of the British officer, as well as impacting America with early ideas of equality among races. The information gathered by James Armistead could not have been possible if he had not been able to gain the trust of British military leaders, through his knowledge as a local Virginian combined with the British viewpoints on slavery at the time. Lafayette decided to assess James as a spy on Benedict Arnold and Cornwallis due to his good retention of information. James’s motivation to join the army came from partially the desire to escape the manual labor (Witherbee). Additionally, both Armistead and Lafayette were keen on liberating Virginians from the traitor Benedict Arnold (Quarles 94), further tying into why Armistead, a slave, might join
Winkelman 2 the Continental Army. Regardless of Armistead’s motivation, as a result of the political situation of slavery in England with the Somersett case, Armistead was easily allowed to gain trust among the British. The court case of James Somersett informally led to the abolishment of slavery in Britain and her territories and was widely accepted (Witherbee). As a result, the Somersett case incentivized many slaves to escape slavery and run to the British for freedom. This being said, the British had no reason to distrust any runaway slaves, so when Armistead posed as a runaway slave to the British he immediately gained the trust of many British officers. Additionally, the

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