James Armistead Lafayette Lesson Plans

James Armistead Lafayette, trustworthy, determined, diligent, slave, spy, honest...  The list of adjectives that could be used to describe this one man could go on and on.  He was a slave who became a Revolutionary spy who helped the Marquis de Lafayette and General George Washington finally defeat General Lord Cornwallis and secure the freedom of the American colonies from British tyranny.  

And the same man he fought for, fought for him as well when the Marquis de Lafayette helped strengthened James's appeal to the General Assembly of Virginia.  

What a story!  If you'd like to know more, you're in for a real treat with our Heritage Letter from James Armistead Lafayette!  With the letter you'll receive a photo of James, a timeline of his life, and a copy of the letter of testimony the Marquis de Lafayette provided him that helped secure his emancipation.  Our James Armistead Lafayette Letter is the perfect addition to your homeschool history lessons for the American Revolution and for African American Heritage Month!

James Armistead Lafayette Heritage Letter

Researching this letter has no only helped me learn more about the life of James Armistead Lafayette, but about the Virginia slavery laws at the time of the Revolution and the considerations that James would have weighed before he decided to fight with the Revolutionaries and ultimately work as a spy for both the Revolutionaries AND the British while remaining faithful to the Revolutionaries.  It has truly been a joy to study his life!

To help you learn more about James Armistead Lafayette, we’ve pulled together some excellent resources and developed a week of free lesson plans for your use alone or to accompany our Heritage Letter from James Armistead Lafayette.  You can view the lesson plans below and snatch up a copy of the free lesson plans along with our our activities about James in our free downloads here!

Letter from Marquis de Lafayette

If you’d like a fun introduction to James Armistead Lafayette's life that will be engaging and authentic, you can grab our Heritage Letter from him by subscribing to the Heritage Letter anytime between now and February 14, 2022.  After that it will be available in our Retired Letters!.  It’s full of direct quotes, facts about his life!  You can get the snail mail letter here or the instant digital download version here.

In addition to our lesson plans, here are our top recommended resources for learning about James Armistead Lafayette!


In Prospect Park in New York City you'll find a bronze tableau that honors the Marquis de Lafayette... on the tableau you'll find James Armistead Lafayette standing with the Marquis.

In The Square in Washington, Georgia, you'll find a memorial to Black Revolutionary War soldiers that includes a bust of James Armistead Lafayette

In New Kent County at the Old Courthouse, you can find a memorial marker for James Armistead Lafayette 


Choose Your Own Adventure: James Armistead Lafayette

Choose Your Own Adventure Spies: James Armistead Lafayette by Kyandreia Jones

A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent

A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent by Anne Rockwell

Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the American Revolution

Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the American Revolution by Gretchen Woelfle

The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution

The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution by William Cooper Nell


James Armistead Lafayette Lesson Plans


One Week with James Armistead Lafayette

You'll find all of the ideas below, plus a pamphlet for your student(s) to fill out about James Armistead Lafayette in our James Armistead Lafayette free downloads.

Day 1: Hello James!

-Read the Heritage Letter from James Armistead Lafayette

-Watch James Armistead Lafayette - African American Trailblazers

*As you go through the week, add in reading any books you have about James Armistead Lafayette,

Day 2: Revolutionary Spy

-Watch Hidden History: Virginia slave spied America to Revolutionary War Victory

-Fill in the Revolutionary Spy portion of the Venn Diagram in the free downloads


Day 3: British Spy

-Watch the read aloud of A Spy Called James

-Fill in the British Spy portion of the Venn Diagram in the free downloads 

Day 4: Revolutionary War Hero

Fill in the Character Map for James Armistead Lafayette using all you've learned about him this week.  James did not leave behind him writings about what he did during his life or why....how can the things he saw, heard, did, and the places he went help you understand what he thought or believed?  

Day 5: Field Trip Day

Read the testimonial letter the Marquis de Lafayette wrote for James. How do you think his words helped James’s fight for his freedom?

Finishing filling out the brochure about James if you haven’t done so already.



Additional Resources

If you'd like to read more about James Armistead Lafayette, the following list will help you in your research:

American Battlefield Trust


The Valentine


Colonial Williamsburg





Encyclopedia Virginia


Lafayette College


Black Past


Mount Vernon: Lafayette’s Testimonial to James Armistead Lafayette



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