Color mezzotint of Benedict Arnold, 1776, London, by Thomas Hart
During the War of Independence, cunning spies, clever strategists, and treacherous turncoats used intelligence to literally shape the course of history. George Washington understood “the advantage of obtaining the earliest and best Intelligence of the designs of the enemy,” and he was willing to pay for it. In this series, intelligence experts and historians explore individuals and incidents in which espionage played a critical part in the Revolution.
James Lafayette: Double Agent
He seemed like the perfect spy—to both the Americans and the British. Luckily for the Continental Army, he was a loyal patriot. Although enslaved, James Lafayette was able to volunteer for the Continental Army under the Marquis de Lafayette, who recognized his undercover potential: James could pass as a runaway slave and infiltrate British camps and gather information, as well as share misinformation. He was so believable that the British trusted him with their own spy mission. Katherine Egner Gruber, curator at Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, shares newly uncovered research on the life and times of James Lafayette, including his own fight for personal liberty after helping to secure the patriot’s victory at the Siege of Yorktown.
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International Spy Museum
800 F St NW, Washington, DC
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown