This picture book tells the story of James Armistead Lafayette, a slave who served under French General Lafayette during the American Revolution. He was a double agent, and he was instrumental in Lafayette’s defeat of British General Cornwallis. James, underestimated and overlooked because of his status and skin color, was privy to conversations and information that he then passed on to American troops, at great personal risk.
Following the war, James had another battle to face–the fight for his own freedom. Since he wasn’t technically a soldier, he was not granted his freedom for service during the war. He appealed to the government, and, after General Lafayette himself appealed on James’ behalf, his petition for freedom was granted.
This easy-to-understand picture book is a necessary addition to any elementary school library. It definitely fills a void when it comes to studies of the American Revolution. Each year, my 4th grade students complete biography projects about famous figures from the war. Each year, James Armistead Lafayette is one of their choices. Until now, there have been no books–or at least no books they can comprehend–on this figure. I am thrilled to add this wonderfully written and illustrated book to my library’s collection.