18th Century Impressions

Marquis de Lafayette

Born into nobility and baptized Marie Joseph Paul  Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the young Marquis de Lafayette sympathized  with the colonies in British America. Lafayette was unlike many nobles  in that he wanted to protect the rights of the common person. Finding  the colonies wrongly oppressed, Lafayette longed to stand up for the  patriotic cause. Lafayette purchased a ship named the Victory and funded  his own way to America vowing to fight for Liberty. Congress, in the  early stages of government, could not pay the young officer and turned  down his services. Lafayette would not be turned away and agreed to  serve without pay. Congress awarded the Marquis de Lafayette the rank of  Major General to serve at General Washington’s side. This strengthened  the bond between them and soon Washington referred to Lafayette as his  adopted son. Over time Washington gave more responsibility and trust to  Lafayette along with the command of troops in the field, enabling  Lafayette to save the army in many battles. Washington sent Lafayette  south to capture the traitor Benedict Arnold. Instead, he cornered and  helped capture General Cornwallis at Yorktown. 

James Madison

Before Virginia officially declared war, James  Madison was elected Colonel in the Orange County Militia by their  Committee of Safety. Due to Madison's weak physique he never served in  battle. Instead Madison served in the Virginia Conventions and then the  Continental Congress. After the war was over, the new United States of  America struggled to find their own government. Madison organized the  Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and helped to establish the  Constitution and the Bill of Rights. A few years later Madison married  Dolley Payne Todd on September 15, 1794.  The perfect wife for the  introverted Madison, Dolley was key in his journey to the White House  where he was the fourth President of the United States. Madison was the  only President to command troops on the field while in office.  Historical Interpreter Charles Wissinger portrays James Madison in order  to tell Madison's stories from an entertaining and educational point of  view. 

Major John Andre

Andre started his military career at the age of 20 as a lieutenant and within a few short years he reached the rank of Major. In April 1779, he was placed in charge of the British Secret Intelligence. By the next year he had begun a correspondence with American General Benedict Arnold through his loyalist wife, Peggy Shippen. It is said that Andre courted Shippen in Philadelphia prior to her marriage to Arnold. On September 20, 1780 Andre went to visit Arnold at West Point in New York to discuss its surrender to the British for £20,000. In addition, Arnold would receive the rank and recognition he felt he deserved, but this time as a British Officer. André was then given civilian clothes, a passport signed by Arnold and papers showing the British details of the fort. André hid these items in his boot. Since Andre was not in uniform and claiming to be a John Anderson when he was captured the Americans treated him as a spy. On September 29, 1780, the board found André guilty of being behind American lines "under a feigned name and in a disguised habit", and that "Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, ought to be considered as a Spy from the enemy. Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in New York, did all he could to save his favorite aide, but Andre was to be hanged as a spy at Tappan on October 2, 1780.

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