Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How God Used the Life of Peter Francisco

This is a miniature portrait of Peter Francisco

   I am grateful to God for Daniel.  I am so incredibly lucky to have such a loving and bright boy who knew such joy while he was on Earth, even if it was only to be for twelve and a half years.  One of the things I remember so well is that Daniel really liked living in Virginia.  So many times we would learn about American history, and then we would go somewhere like Hopewell, Williamsburg, Yorktown, or Amelia and he would realize that we were in the place being discussed by the history books.  Virginia played such an important role in the early history of the United States and was the birthplace or home of many presidents. Daniel was quite small when we drove past Limestone Farm which had been owned by James Monroe, and Daniel realized that we lived fairly near President Monroe's farm, at the time.  He was similarly in awe when we went to Appomattox or Williamsburg.  He was also really interested when he realized that Pocahontas in real life, came from our neck of the woods and that we knew direct descendants of her.
                  There is one story about American history that Daniel did not know, because I did not know about it in order to tell him.  I am going to share it with you instead, and I think Daniel will see this post, if for some reason, he doesn't already know this in Heaven.

                   A young boy named Pedro Francisco was born in the Azores to  wealthy Portuguese parents.  He spent time in a large home overlooking the sea where he and his sister watched animals in the sea.   Political enemies of his parents from Portugal are said to have hired pirates to kidnap him. Poor Pedro wound up being purchased from them by a sea captain who dumped the boy, at age five, on the pier at City Point, Virginia. (South of Richmond in the vicinity of what is now Hopewell, Virginia)   The boy was dressed in European finery with silver shoe buckles custom made with his initials. He spoke only Portuguese.  Patrick Henry's uncle, Judge Anthony Winston, agreed to take the boy who was being housed at the Poor House, in Prince George County, Virginia. They called him Peter.

                 Peter Francisco was a good farm worker. He was apprenticed by the family as a blacksmith, in part because he was extremely tall and muscular, even as a teen.  He was cared for and treated well, but he worked on the farm, but was not adopted as one of their own sons.  At 6 feet and 6 inches tall and 260 pounds in that day, he was a veritable giant.  Peter accompanied the judge, and Patrick Henry to the famous "Give me Liberty or Give Me Death Speech" at St. John's Church in Richmond,  as both extended family and perhaps also as a bodyguard.

               When Peter turned 16, he signed up as a soldier for the Virginia 10th regiment, and he fought valiantly.  At one point he was badly injured and shared a hospital room with the Marquis de Lafayette, with whom he became a lifelong friend.  It was Lafayette who requested that George Washington commission a specially made sword for combat for someone as large as Peter.   Peter became probably one of the first "Special Forces" soldiers that we have had in America.  He took on one difficult assignment after another, and is largely credited for winning a number of battles without which America would not have ultimately won  the Revolutionary War.  Peter also effectively spied on a particularly violent British general named Tarleton. Peter injured his soldiers when they attacked him to steal his silver shoe buckles, which he still always wore. The legend says that afterward, Peter took their horses, sold them all, and kept Tarleton's horse, riding him and calling him Tarleton.    Peter Francisco is truly one of the United State's founding fathers and yet for many years this was not taught in schools.  Francisco lived on a farm in Buckingham County, Virginia following the war.  He was not wealthy but was ultimately made the Sargeant-at-Arms of the Virginia Senate.

           Daniel would have been pleased to know that one more inhabitant of the Virginia towns and villages he frequented in his lifetime, played a role in securing the freedoms the United States ultimately knew.  Peter Francisco was by all accounts an orphaned child at five, alone in the New World. He didn't even speak English.  He came to a good family, but at first, he probably had more in common with the slaves of the household, than with the family members.  He also was not educated in the manner in which most of the gentry would have educated their sons in that day.  And yet, God used him, despite numerous serious disadvantages, to do very great and lasting things in the world.  This point would not have escaped Daniel.
            The many relatives of Peter Francisco have a great deal of which to be proud.

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