Published 3:10 pm Monday, March 6, 2023

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Foundation Forward, Charters of Freedom — Founding Fathers and other Influencing Citizens. How They Served Our Country

This Month: John Laurens

This is an American history educational moment of those who made a difference during the Revolutionary War era and how they served our country.

David Streater

John Laurens grew up having an impetuous personality becoming an extraordinary patriot and soldier. John was born on Oct. 28, 1754, in Charleston, South Carolina, to Henry and Eleanor. Henry was a wealthy farmer and businessman involved in the slave trade, which John detested.

John was home-schooled until his mother died in 1770. Henry then sent John and his brothers to Switzerland to receive a world-class education. Next, while studying law in England, John read Paine’s “Common Sense,” igniting his interest in the cause for independence.

Finally, disappointing his father, John quit law school and returned home to enter the American revolution.

Upon joining the Continental Army, Henry ensured that John was assigned to a safe duty station. Ranked as a lieutenant colonel, John was chosen for Washington’s inner circle as an aide-de-camp.

Nonetheless, John soon volunteered to serve by fighting the British. He desired to command troops to make a difference in battles and liberate enslaved people in return for their military service.

As a field commander, Laurens proved himself time and again.
During battles such as Germantown, Monmouth, Brandywine, etc., John placed himself in peril for the sake of others and kept the British at bay.

As a result of taking tremendous risks, Laurens got wounded several times. These behaviors earned him a reputation as a hero and propelled his interest in manumission campaigns against slavery and discrimination. Even though John’s efforts failed, he tried to “arm slaves and grant them freedom in return for their [military] service” throughout the war.

Near the end of the Revolutionary War, John was shot and killed during a minor skirmish on Aug. 27, 1782, at the Combahee River, Chehaw Neck, South Carolina. This tragedy occurred while Col. Laurens was sick with malaria and patrolling with his troops.

John Laurens is known for many valiant acts: A dual with Gen. Charles Lee, gallantry in battles, survival as a POW and obtaining foreign financial war support. Yet, his most significant and noblest goal was to end slavery and injustice. As a pure American patriot, Laurens’ legacy continues in Laurens County, South Carolina, and other cantons — named in his honor.

Please visit your Charters of Freedom setting at 144 N. 2nd St., Albemarle. A Charters of Freedom setting consists of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They are on permanent display analogous to the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives, Washington, D.C. Please visit our website ( to learn more about all settings.

Teachers are encouraged to contact Dr. Streater for information and complementary student education materials to enhance experiential field trips to a Charters of Freedom settings. Please contact Dr. Streater ( for engraved legacy paver information and complementary educational materials.

Dr. David Streater is the director of education for Foundation Forward, the organization which placed life-size replicas of the United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, also known as the Charters of Freedom, in downtown Albemarle. He is a retired college instructor/administrator and a retired probation and parole officer/administrator. In addition, he is a criminologist with an acute history interest, served in the Navy, is a resident of Burke County and is a graduate of Pfeiffer University.