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1770 - 1779


In a move seen as “liberal” at the time, Thomas Jefferson proposes a revision of Virginia law to reduce the penalty for sodomy from death to castration. This is never enacted.


To train the new American Army in the latest military drills and tactics, General George Washington brought in Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730–94), who had been an officer on the German General staff. Von Steuben escaped Germany where he was threatened with prosecution for homosexuality. Friedrich von Steuben arrives in Valley Forge to offer his expertise to the Continental Army. Von Steuben had been forced out of the Prussian military due to homosexual scandals.

Gotthold Enslin becomes the first American discharged from the Army for sodomy.


Thomas Jefferson wrote a law in Virginia which contained a punishment of castration for men who engaged in sodomy. However, what was intended by Jefferson as a liberalization of the sodomy laws in Virginia at that time was rejected by the Virginia Legislature, which continued to prescribe death as the maximum penalty for the crime of sodomy in that state.