Virginia’s Important Players of the American Revolution

Virginia’s Important Players of the American Revolution

The American Revolution is one of the most important parts of our history. We literally wouldn’t exist without it. Here in Virginia, many of the most important players of the revolution emerged. This #TallShipTuesday, we are helping our Virginia Students study for their Standards of Learning Test by exploring the accomplishments these important Virginians. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Lafayette, and Providence’s own John Paul Jones all had a role to play.

George Washington

Washington is one of the more well known of our important Virginians, He called Mount Vernon his home here in Virginia. George also had a town home in Alexandria as that was a place he spent a lot of time. He was even an ametur cartographer and one of the oldest surviving maps of the town was penned by Washington. He was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the revolution. While he wasn’t in charge of the Navy, he did have a say in what happend. Washington even sent our ship out on a mission to bermuda just before the continental congress created a continental Navy.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, close personal friend of Captain John Paul Jones, one of Providence’s captains. Jefferson was in constant contact with “Little Jones,” as Jefferson sometimes referred to him. Even after the war, Jones even sent him a bust of his head in 1786. Jefferson lived near Charlottesville, Virginia at his home of Monticello. Jefferson, amongst other things, provided leadership in this time of tumult. He was a leader like other important Virginians who helped bring strength in the chaos and uncertainty. He was the main author of the Declaration of Independence. He was also the Commander in Chief of the Virginia Militia which aided the Continental Army in battle.

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia and spent most of his life in Virginia. Henry became known as a great orator in this time as a lawyer winning over 1000 cases that he argued. He was in strong opposition of taxation without representation, fighting against the Stamp Act. Henry is now well known for his speech that he gave to Second Virginia Convention on March 20, 1775. In this speech he uttered the phrase “Give me liberty or give me death” He was a part of the Continental Congress along with several other important Virginians. Henry also became Virginia’s first Independent Governor in 1776, and served again in 1784.

James Lafayette

James Lafayette, was born into slavery on a plantation in New Kent, Virginia. He served as a spy in the Continental Army. He infiltrated the camp of General Benedict Arnold, a traitor to the patriots, and was assigned the role of a forager. James was able to travel freely between British and American Camps and ended up working in close quarters to General Cornwallis. James smuggled papers out of Cornwallis’ headquarters and fed information to the Americans about British Royal Navy and Army placements in Yorktown. This in turn allowed the Continental Army and French Navy to surround Governor Cornwallis’ troops.

After the war James had to fight for his freedom and he won with the support of the Marquis de Lafayette. During the war, James and the Marquis worked closely together and had grown a bond. As a staunch abolitionist the Marquis made an impassioned plea for James’s freedom. Despite this, James remained property for several more years, until petitioning the court again where he was finally granted his freedom. He adopted the surname Lafayette in honor of Lafayette and the bond they shared in the war and beyond.

John Paul Jones

We like to consider Providence’s own John Paul Jones one of the important Virginians of the American Revolution. While he was originally from Scotland, he moved to Fredericksburg, VA a few years before the revolution. He is now known as the father of the US Navy. Before that, he was a heroic naval captain that fought bravely against the british. He was first Lieutenant on Alfred, then Captain of Providence. During his time in the war, he captured many prizes, british merchant ships, that they used to help fund the war effort. He is best known for his role in the Battle of Flamborough Head where he uttered his most famous phrase “I have not yet begun to fight!”


Mount Vernon, Encyclopedia Brittanica-

A plan of Alexandria, now Belhaven, Mount Vernon-

General George Washington led the American army to victory during the Revolutionary War, Mount Vernon-,George%20Washington%20is%20appointed%20by%20Congress%20as%20commander%2Din%2Dchief,Army%20by%20his%20fellow%20congressmen.

To George Washington from Nicholas Cooke, 9 September 1775, National Archives-

Revolutionary Voices: John Paul Jones, Scarlet Ingstad-,and%20even%20spoke%20some%20French.

To Thomas Jefferson from John Paul Jones, 28 February 1786, National Archives-

Who Wrote the Declaration of Independence?, Matthew Wills-

Thomas Jefferson, National Guard-,of%20State%20and%20Vice%20President.

Biography of Patrick Henry, Robert Douthat Meade-

Historic Preservation of Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown, Preservation Virginia-,%2C%E2%80%9D%20open%20to%20the%20public.

Life of Patrick Henry, Colonial Williamsburg-

James Armistead Lafayette, American Battlefield Trust-

In Plain Sight: The Story of James Lafayette, Jackie Nunnery-

Benedict Arnold, Encyclopedia Britannica-

James Lafayette (ca. 1748–1830), Encyclopedia Virginia-

501 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fredricksburg VA History –

John Paul Jones 6 July 1747 − 18 July 1792, Naval History and Heritage Command-

Biographical Profile of John Paul Jones, Encyclopedia Britannica-

The Battle of Flamborough Head: Where the Continental Navy got its sea legs, American Battlefield Trust-

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