In this unscripted episode I go over the new mini-series created by the History Channel, Washington. Listen to my rambling thoughts on this show.
Coming at some point…
In this unscripted episode I go over the new mini-series created by the History Channel, Washington. Listen to my rambling thoughts on this show.
Coming at some point…
This speech was delivered by King George III during the year 1775 after the colonies were declared to be in rebellion, to the Parliament of Great-Britain. This speech was read during the opening session of Parliament.
His Majesty’s most gracious speech to both Houses of Parliament, on Friday, October 27, 1775.
“THE present situation of America, and my constant desire to have your advice, concurrence and assistance, on every important occasion, have determined me to call you thus early together.
“Those who have long too successfully laboured to inflame my people in America by gross misrepresentations, and to infuse into their minds a system of opinions, repugnant to the true constitution of the colonies, and to their subordinate relation to Great-Britain, now openly avow their revolt, hostility and rebellion. They have raised troops, and are collecting a naval force; they have seized the public revenue, and assumed to themselves legislative, executive and judicial powers, which they already exercise in the most arbitrary manner, over the persons and property of their fellow-subjects: And altho’ many of these unhappy people may still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the fatal consequence of this usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet the torrent of violence has been strong enough to compel their acquiescence, till a sufficient force shall appear to support them.
“The authors and promoters of this desperate conspiracy have, in the conduct of it, derived great advantage from the difference of our intentions and theirs. They meant only to amuse by vague expressions of attachment to the Parent State, and the strongest protestations of loyalty to me, whilst they were preparing for a general revolt. On our part, though it was declared in your last session that a rebellion existed within the province of the Massachusetts Bay, yet even that province we wished rather to reclaim than to subdue. The resolutions of Parliament breathed a spirit of moderation and forbearance; conciliatory propositions accompanied the measures taken to enforce authority; and the coercive acts were adapted to cases of criminal combinations amongst subjects not then in arms. I have acted with the same temper; anxious to prevent, if it had been possible, the effusion of the blood of my subjects; and the calamities which are inseparable from a state of war; still hoping that my people in America would have discerned the traiterous views of their leaders, and have been convinced, that to be a subject of Great Britain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest member of any civil society in the known world.
“The rebellious war now levied is become more general, and is manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent empire. I need not dwell upon the fatal effects of the success of such a plan. The object is too important, the spirit of the British nation too high, the resources with which God hath blessed her too numerous, to give up so many colonies which she has planted with great industry, nursed with great tenderness, encouraged with many commercial advantages, and protected and defended at much expence of blood and treasure.
“It is now become the part of wisdom, and (in its effects) of clemency, to put a speedy end to these disorders by the most decisive exertions. For this purpose, I have increased my naval establishment, and greatly augmented my land forces; but in such a manner as may be the least burthensome to my kingdoms.
“I have also the satisfaction to inform you, that I have received the most friendly offers of foreign assistance; and if I shall make any treaties in consequence thereof, they shall be laid before you. And I have, in testimony of my affection for my people, who can have no cause in which I am not equally interested, sent to the garrisons of Gibraltar and Port-Mahon a part of my Electoral troops, in order that a larger number of the established forces of this kingdom may be applied to the maintenance of its authority; and the national militia, planned and regulated with equal regard to the rights, safety and protection of my crown and people, may give a farther extent and activity to our military operations.
“When the unhappy and deluded multitude, against whom this force will be directed, shall become sensible of their error, I shall be ready to receive the misled with tenderness and mercy ! and in order to prevent the inconveniencies which may arise from the great distance of their situation, and to remove as soon as possible the calamities which they suffer, I shall give authority to certain persons upon the spot to grant general or particular pardons and indemnities, in such manner, and to such persons as they shall think fit; and to receive the submission of any Province or Colony which shall be disposed to return to its allegiance. It may be also proper to authorise the persons so commissioned to restore such Province or Colony, so returning to its allegiance, to the free exercise of its trade and commerce, and to the same protection and security as if such Province or Colony had never revolted.
“Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
“I have ordered the proper estimates for the ensuing year to be laid before you; and I rely on your affection to me, and your resolution to maintain the just rights of this country, for such supplies as the present circumstances of our affairs require. Among the many unavoidable ill consequences of this rebellion, none affects me more sensibly than the extraordinary burthen which it must create to my faithful subjects.
“My Lords, and Gentlemen,
“I have fully opened to you my views and intentions. The constant employment of my thoughts, and the most earnest wishes of my heart, tend wholly to the safety and happiness of all my people, and to the re-establishment of order and tranquility through the several parts of my dominions, in a close connection and constitutional dependance. You see the tendency of the present disorders, and I have stated to you the measures which I mean to pursue for suppressing them. Whatever remains to be done, that may farther contribute to this end, I commit to your wisdom. And I am happy to add, that, as well from the assurances I have received, as from the general appearances of affairs in Europe, I see no probability that the measures which you may adopt will be interrupted by disputes with any foreign power.”
Imagine this, the village idiot through sheer dumb luck becomes one of the most wealthy men around. Sounds pretty farfetched? Well, I supposes it’s time you hear the tale of Lord Timothy Dexter.
Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be looking at the life of an interesting fellow, Timothy Dexter. Imagine this, the village idiot through sheer dumb luck became extremely wealthy. This episode was inspired by the Youtuber Sam O’nella. If you haven’t seen his video yet, I highly recommend watching it. I’ll provide a link to the video on the script page for this episode. This episode will be a bit on the shorter side. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Alright, let’s get into the early life of, Timothy Dexter!
Lord Timothy Dexter was born on January 22nd, 1747, in a town called, Malden. Malden was a little north of Boston. His family originally hailed from Ireland. He was from a poor family. His family would labor on a farm and Timothy grew up working at the soil. He received very little in the way of education as well. When he was 8 years old, young Timothy went off to start his career working on a farm. He quit his job when he was 14 and moved down to Charleston, South Carolina. He would end up becoming an apprentice of leatherwork for garments. When he was 16 he headed back up to Boston and continued his apprenticeship. Though the trade he was taking up was considered to be lower class, the business was doing well. Those he apprenticed under became masters of Moroccan leather which was in high demand. When he turned 21 Timothy Dexter had completed his apprenticeship. As was the custom of the time, those he apprenticed under gave him a Freeman Suit, which he sold for $8.20. Timothy then moved to Charlestown neighborhood, which was a part of Boston. He found himself a neighbor to the likes of John Hancock and other wealthy individuals. He would set up shop, and just before The Boston Tea Party occurred, he met a woman named Elizabeth Frothingham. Elizabeth was a wealthy widow and a mother to four. Our boy Timothy charmed this woman to the point of marriage. He would set up his new shop in his wife’s home. He did want to improve his station in life by moving up the social ladder. So, he made the logical move to go into politics. Just a reminder that this man dropped out of school at the age of 8. He petitioned surrounding communities for a seat in Public Office. He kept asking and asking. Eventually, the town of Malden got sick of him asking for a Public Office, so they invented one for him. At this point in his life, young Timothy was given the government position of Informer of Deer. Under his new Office, Timothy was required to keep track of the local deer population. However, the last known deer in the area had died 19 years prior to the creation of his Office. Happy that he had fulfilled a public service, Timothy Dexter wished to expand his wealth.
After the Revolutionary War had concluded, Timothy came up with the brilliant scheme of buying up Continental Dollars. Which if you didn’t know, the Continental Dollars went belly up during the war. That’s where the phrase, “Not worth a Continental” came from. Some of the wealthier men during the time took it upon themselves to buy up some of the worthless bills in an attempt to restore trust in the currency. Timothy looked at what his peers were doing and decided to do the same. However, he didn’t just purchase a few Continentals, no he spent all of his money and his wife’s money on worthless pieces of paper. His purchases were for pennies on the dollar. Anyone back then would tell you that it was a dumb decision at the time. Yet after the Constitution was ratified, the new Federal Government bought up old Continentals in exchange for Treasury Bonds for 1% of face value. Since Timothy purchased the Continentals at a fraction of the cost, he made a killing off of the Treasury Bonds and his wealth skyrocketed. His wife and himself were living in the town of Newburyport Massachusetts at this point. Newburyport was a coastal town where there was less divide between the upper and lower classes and people would mingle amongst themselves. Timothy Dexter wasn’t very liked in Boston, but he faired better in Newburyport. Though he would remain unpopular with his neighbors given his poor manner of speech and his conduct. Even though he wished for acceptance of the upper class, he never exactly got it. Timothy wanted to live in style, at his newfound home. He ordered the construction of a chateau overlooking the waters. He invested a portion of his wealth into a fleet of shipping vessels. Outside his chateau, he ordered the construction of 40 statues of important American figures. He also ordered the construction of a statue of himself, with the words inscribed below it saying, quote, “I am the first in the East, the first in the West, and the greatest philosopher in the Western world” unquote. Yet Timothy had contributed nothing to Philosophy at this point in his life. Due to embarrassment, his wife eventually moved out of their home, but still somewhat stuck around him. Timothy’s son wanted to be around his father more so the two of them lived together. They would regularly throw massive parties. His home, by some, was comparable to the likes of a brothel. Now, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back, we’re going to take a look into Timothy Dexter’s Business dealings. Don’t go anywhere.
Welcome back. We’ll continue the second half of this episode with the Business dealings of Timothy Dexter and his later life. Timothy was making plans to break into international trade. His neighbors wanting to bankrupt him decided to give a helping hand with some business advice. They told him to sell bed warming pans to the West Indies, a very tropical and warm location. Timothy was happy with this advice and purchased about 42,000 of these bed warming pans for shipment. His neighbors and other merchants were laughing at him for taking such foolish advice. When his shipments arrived at the West Indies, the locals didn’t have much need for them as bed warming pans, but they were sold off and used as ladles to sugar and molasses plantations. Timothy sold out at a markup of 79%. The ships returned and Timothy had expanded his wealth greatly. Another business venture he indulged himself in was rounding up stray cats and shipping them to the Carribean. Which the cats were purchased to catch mice and Timothy walked away making a profit. He also had the idea of purchasing large amounts of whalebones, but as luck would have it, corsets were becoming in greater demand in France at the time so he sold off the whalebones to be used in the construction of corsets, thus making a profit off of this venture. One of his neighbors wished to make Timothy out to be a foul. His neighbor instructed Timothy to ship coal to Newcastle. Unbeknownst to Timothy, Newcastle was a large coal mining town. His neighbors thought this would do him in for sure. Besides, what idiot would ship coal to a coal-mining town? Well, our boy Timothy bought up tons of coal and had it shipped to Newcastle. But when the shipment of coal arrived at this coal-mining town, all the coal miners were on strike. Timothy sold his coal at a premium price. Another venture involved selling Bibles. Here’s what he did, he bought Bibles at wholesale at the low cost of 12% under half price, which would have been around $0.41 each. He had them shipped off to the West Indies to be sold. He had the people of the West Indies informed that if they wished to get to Heaven, ever family had to get a Bible. He had 21,000 units to sell and by the end of it, Timothy profited about $47,000.
Timothy would continue his lavish expenditures throughout his life. He would gain notoriety for his antics as well. Though he was looked down on by upper society, it didn’t faze him. As the years went on his drive for more and more attention grew. He would get an assortment of local friends but few were genuine. Some were even as eccentric as himself but without the wealth. Wanting to change things up a bit he moved to Chester, New Hampshire for a time. While he was there he gave himself the title of “Lord” and began to refer to himself as Lord Timothy Dexter. During his time in Chester, he would pursue women. He was also beaten up by a lawyer. After the stint with the lawyer, he moved back to Newburyport. He purchased a new estate for himself. Becoming more aware of his own unpopularity, he decided to fake his own death to see what the populace truly thought of him. He paid for an elaborate tomb for himself and he also commissioned a coffin for himself made from fine mahogany wood. He wanted to test it out and he ended up sleeping in the coffin to much comfort for several weeks. His wife and children where let in on this scheme and a couple of trusted men as well. He instructed his family to act the part and treat it as if it were a real funeral. On the big day, about 3,000 people were in attendance. Expensive alcohol was served. People were mourning his “passing” and his daughter seemed distraught. The only one who seemed not playing their part was his wife. He followed her into the kitchen away from his hiding spot and began beating her with a cane for not mourning enough. Eventually, some of the partisans wandered into the kitchen and saw a supposedly dead man beating his wife. Timothy then went on to the rest of the people and partied like he never pulled the stunt. After some time, he realized he was getting older and he decided to write his memoirs titled A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress. It was 24 pages long and it was published in 1802. He expressed many of his thoughts within it. And he gave the book away for free at the start, but it gained popularity and there were several reprints ordered. The book is famous for its misspellings and overall poor grammar. In the first edition, there was no punctuation anywhere in the book. After many complaints about the lack of punctuation, he added another page to the second edition of the book where the entire page was 13 lines of punction. He commented that people could now put the punctuation anywhere they pleased. Towards the end of his life, he became more generous. In his will, he had his estate divided up between his wife and children. He also gave a portion of his wealth to his friends. Lord Timothy Dexter would depart from this world on October 26th, 1806. A man with his luck was probably welcomed into the loving arms of Providence.
Wow! What a guy! I did not expect to discover a man with such an eccentric life. Again, I’d like to thank the YouTuber, Sam O’Nella for making a video about Timothy Dexter. On the script page for this episode, I will post Sam’s video for you to check out. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.
Biographical Sketch of Lord Timothy Dexter, http://www.lordtimothydexter.com/Biographical_Sketch.htm.
Chalakoski, Martin. “Timothy Dexter Sold Coal to Newcastle, Faked His Funeral, Caned His Wife for Not Weeping.” The Vintage News, 30 Jan. 2018, http://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/01/23/timothy-dexter-2/.
Crockett, Zachary. “The Strange Life of ‘Lord’ Timothy Dexter.” Priceonomics, 9 Jan. 2015, priceonomics.com/the-strange-life-of-lord-timothy-dexter/.
“Timothy Dexter, the Ridiculous Millionaire Who Sold Coals to Newcastle.” New England Historical Society, 27 Aug. 2019, http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/timothy-dexter-ridiculous-millionaire-sold-coals-newcastle/.
Here’s a secret bonus that wasn’t mentioned in the podcast episode, here’s a link to, A Pickle For The Knowing Ones: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/43453/43453-h/43453-h.htm
In today’s episode, we’ll be going over spycraft in the 18th Century. We’ll cover some techniques spies would use to conceal their messages, and some notable spies from the 18th Century like Nathan Hale. We’ll also discuss some spy activity during Benjamin Franklin’s time in Paris. You don’t want to miss this one!
Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be going over spycraft in the 18th Century. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s kick things off by talking about a general overview of spycraft in the 18th Century.
Spying was frowned upon in the 18th Century. It could lead to a death sentence. There was a view that spying was ungentlemanly. It was an activity that was used but frowned upon. Though States may not openly admit that they used spies, spies were vital in times of war. There were no central intelligence organizations like there are today, but agents or rings were formed when necessary. Perhaps the most famous spy ring in the 18th Century was the Culper Spy Ring, which I did read a few of their letters, however poorly, a couple of episodes ago. I’d recommend checking out the blog post for that episode so you can read the letters yourself. I won’t be going into the Culper Ring today, as that will be a future episode in and of itself. Though spies were used, it was more common for a military to gain intelligence from local sources about their enemy. This could be through local newspapers, rumors, or gossip. People like to talk and information travels. But between spies, they would communicate mainly through letters and coded messages. Ciphers were a popular method of concealing information. Books were sometimes written to decipher the messages. These books would have typically been within the ring only. Another method which also dates back centuries was invisible ink. For example, during the American Revolution, an invisible ink was made by mixing ferrous sulfate and water. The spy would write the hidden message between lines of a letter and then pass it off. To read the message heat or another chemical could be applied. One such chemical which could bring forth the message was sodium carbonate. Now, a British method of transferring information, which could have been used by other States as well, was hidden messages. Hidden messages would be written on small pieces of paper and concealed in an object, which a courier could transfer. One method which I have seen before but I forgot about was masked messages. A masked message was when a message would be concealed in a letter that only could be read if a specially designed shaped template was placed over the letter. Spies have been used for centuries before and centuries after, but I think it’s time we take a look into a small story of spies in France during the second half of the 1770s.
This section will be covering part of the American Revolution, and I know I’ve talked about doing my American Revolution series on the podcast for a few episodes. It’s coming… eventually. But I do want to share a small tale concerning spies and Paris during this period. Our tale begins in 1776 when the new Congress of the United States sends Benjamin Franklin to France as a diplomat. His mission is to gain French support for the American Cause. I think it goes without saying how famous Benjamin Franklin was in Paris. The French loved him, and I’ll dive deeper into this when I do a bio on Benjamin Franklin. However, there were still some under the table dealings Franklin did while in France. Franklin had amassed a connection of friends in France and Agents working under him. Franklin would launch a series of schemes while also conducting diplomacy. One such instance was a successful piece of propaganda against the British on their turf. One ploy of propaganda was giving false newspaper stories of Britain’s Native American allies which stipulated that the Natives were committing horrendous acts on the frontier. The ploy would pay off as it caused a further division in Parliament. Franklin’s agents would amass a bounty of British Naval movements. I think this goes without saying how well connected he truly was. The British Ambassador to France was quoted as saying about Franklin, quote, “veteran of mischief,” unquote. Franklin was clever, but one thing he never found out during his time in Paris, was that his then Secretary, Edward Bancroft, was an agent for the British. Edward would write the intelligence on Franklin in invisible ink, then he would leave it at a dead drop where Paul Wentworth, the man in charge of British espionage in Paris, would pick it up. The information gathered by Edward would successfully make it’s way to the direct hands of King George III. However, the information collected on Franklin was mostly in vain. King George III, for the most part, dismissed the information collected. Franklin did come to suspect there was a mole in his midst and he would on occasion, send false information as a way to trap the British Agent. He never did figure out it was his own Secretary. Now, the French had their very own well-connected spy ring in their Capitol. The French would spy on citizens and foreigners alike. The French agents would gather their information through a plethora of ways, among which were, gossip, and pillow talk after relations. It goes without saying, the French had spies placed on Franklin. Franklin, of course, was aware he was being watched. He knew both about the British and the French, though he may not have known the exact identity of all the spies placed on him. After the Americans claimed victory of the Battle of Saratoga, the British were considering to find a way to reconcile with the Americans. Franklin became aware of this and hatched a plan which would help encourage the French to support the American cause. Though the French were not in the conflict as of yet, a prolonged conflict could have benefited the French over their most hated adversary, the British. Franklin pretended he was interested in talking with the British. Possibly, he implied opening a dialogue with them. This was discovered by French agents, and the information was passed along. The French panicked. They hastened for a deal giving support to the Americans. Through careful maneuvering, and playing the agents on him, Franklin’s plan was realized. Now, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back for the second half of this episode, we’re going to take a look at some notable spies in the 18th Century. Don’t go away.
Welcome back. We’ll continue the second half of today’s show discussing some of the most prominent spies in the 18th Century. I’m going to start this off with one of the most famous spies in the 18th Century Nathan Hale. Nathan Hale was a graduate of Yale and a schoolteacher from Connecticut. When the American War for Independence broke out Nathan joined the Connecticut regiment in 1775. He would gain the rank of Captain. During the early phases of the War, Washington needed intelligence on the British. Young Nathan volunteered to go and spy on their adversary on September 10th, 1776. He would disguise himself as a Dutch Schoolmaster and sneak past British lines on Long Island. Hale would spend the next few days collecting intelligence on British troop movements. On September 21st, Hale attempted to cross back to American lines, but he was captured by the British. Hale would be interrogated by British General William Howe. General Howe would discover incriminating documents on Hale’s person. General Howe ordered the execution of Hale for the following morning. Nathan Hale would receive no trail. The 21-year-old marched to the gallows, and purportedly his final words were, quote, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” unquote. Hale would go down as one of the most famous spies in 18th Century history, even though he failed his mission and had no training or experience in spycraft.
Let’s transition to a successful spy, one over in Europe, a French spy named, Charles Théveneau de Morande. I will hence refer to him as Charles. Charles was a lawyer’s son, and he served in the Seven Years War. After the Seven Years War, Charles made his way to Paris where he would indulge himself in Vice. Things would get heated for him and he fled Paris in 1770 to London to avoid being arrested. In London, he would print pamphlets attacking King Louis XV’s mistress. Louis XV was furious with Charles’s activities. He wanted the man extradited or kidnaped if possible, but his attempts bore no fruit. When initial revenge attempts failed, the King decided to attempt another plan. He plotted to turn Charles into a spy, and he sent Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais to London to recruit Charles. Pierre-Augustin was in disgrace at the time from losing two court cases in the 1770s. Seeking redemption, Pierre-Augustin traveled to London to recruit Charles. The French Foreign Minister, Charles de Vergennes, also saw our Charles as someone worth investing in. Charles had a knack for uncovering secrets and publishing them in pamphlets, and his outspokenness against the French King would add a layer of protection against British suspicion. During the American War of Independence, Charles kept track of ship movements out of British ports, and very successfully at that. He continued his service spying on the British after the war as well. He would go on and recruit high up engineers to his side. Charles became the editor of a prominent French newspaper in London, Courier de l’Europe. This new position would further give him credence for information gathering. The paper was a massive hit across Europe, but not so much in Parliament. The British Parliament viewed it as a sort of open espionage during the American War of Independence. The allegations that the paper was, in fact, a form of espionage were basically true. The British eventually banned the exportation of the paper. But it’s Naval Officer and Enturepenure, Samuel Swinton, smuggled it out. Samuel was a British spy and used the paper as a means to enter France where he would conduct operations on the Americans and French. All the while Charles was printing hidden messages in paragraphs in the paper which were codded for French intelligence. During the American Revolution, The French helped set up a ring with Charles were he would have multiple couriers in a sort of loose network as not to arouse suspicion. The British did suspect Charles as an agent for France, but they never gathered proof. Charles would remain in Great Britain until 1791 when he made his return to France.
Our final spy for today comes from Sweden. Eva Löwen was born in 1743 and the daughter of the Governor-General. Her family was well politically connected. When her father was appointed as the Governor-General, the family moved. At their new home, Eva would meet her future husband Fredrik Ribbing. Fredrik was politically well connected himself and was close to the Royal couple. Eva would find herself in the heart of Swedish politics in the mid-1760s. Eva would become popular in Swedish high society. She was characterized as witty, and admirable, but also renowned for her… escapades in the private company of others. I trust you understand what I’m getting at. She became a lover of the French Ambassador to Sweden, Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil. Gustav III attempted to initiate a relationship with Eva, but she rejected his advances. She had other relations with high ranking men in Swedish society, and this may have gained the interest of the French. In the years before Gustav III’s coup, she was on a list of recipients receiving a pension from the French Government. After Gustav III’s successful coup and coronation of 1772, Eva grew closer with him as a friend and they spent their time in grand conversation. Everything would fall apart with the death of Eva’s husband in 1783. Eva would first move in with Gustaf Macklean, a person she previously had a connection to. Gustav III began to fall out of favor. Eva’s son became a part of an assassination plot to kill King Gustav III. Her son had influence from what was occurring in France at the time. After the assassination of Gustav III, he was sentenced to death, but received a pardon and was expelled from Sweden and stripped of nobility. Eva and Gustaf Macklean accompanied her son first to Paris, and then to Switzerland. Eva and Gustaf would marry in 1796 and moved into a Manor in Sweden. Eva died at home in 1813.
This brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Spies and their history is certainly a fascinating topic. I learned a few things this week which I did not expect, and I hope you did as well. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.
“Spy Techniques of the Revolutionary War.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolutionary-war/spying-and-espionage/spy-techniques-of-the-revolutionary-war/.
Crews, Ed. “Spies and Scouts, Secret Writing, and Sympathetic Citizens.” Spies and Scouts, Secret Writing, and Sympathetic Citizens : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site, 2004, https://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Summer04/spies.cfm.
HistoryExtraAdmin. “18th Century Espionage: the French Spy in London.” HistoryExtra, 10 Oct. 2018, https://www.historyextra.com/period/georgian/18th-century-espionage-the-french-spy-in-london/.
“Nathan Hale Is Executed by the British for Spying.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 13 Nov. 2009, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/patriot-executed-for-spying.
Eva Helena Löwen, http://www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/EvaLowen, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Brita Planck), retrieved 2019-10-25.
In this unscripted episode of the 18th Century Podcast, listen to me stumble reading 3 of the Culper Letters from the American Revolution. The Culper Spy Ring was the first American Spy ring.
Jany 22. 1779
Your No. 4 came to hand, And observed the Contents. Your approbation of my Intelligence is highly pleasing to me. I Shall use my best endevours to Serve you and think I am under good advantages to do it. I cannot give you any Incouragement about makeing any Incursion on L. Island with Small parties. I know not of any Officer So detached from his Corps that a Small Party might Surprise him, I must Informe you that Continentall Money will not Serve me; It is much lower here now than it was Some time ago, It now Sells for 15 p. C., Priced current See Separate The danger I apprehended of miscairage mentiond in my last was owing to my freinds fear (the Enemy lately being very Strict) but hath bene no disservice, As nothing Material transpired in the Interim, Except the Storme did Some damge to the Shiping. The Mail that arived mentioned in my last brought nothing Material that I Could lerne. Within few days have had an opportunity of Safely Visiting allmost every Quarter of the Enemy have had two agreeable Tours with good Company to Kings Brige Spent Some time at Genl Tryons Quarters and treated with respect, Tryon Said the War was almost at an end, and that Peace Would be made in Urope. I do not in the leas doubt it but in two Month Amarican Independence will be Acknowledged by Britan; I Could not discover any thing different from what I have heretofore informed you of except the 44 Regn. is there and think now you have Certainly got an account of every Regn. on the Two Islands I Shall betwixt now and the Midle of march give you a new account of the Genl and Regn. on the three Islands—the Cork Fleet Consisted of 28 Ships, Sailed under Convoy of the Maria Friget & the Notinham East Indiaman and about Christmas they were Separated by a violent Gale of Wind and have bene ever Since the 10 Instant Continualy droping in togather with Some Ships from Hallifax and Some Comeing up from Staten Island that made it So difficult although upon the Spot I Cannot Certainly determin how hath arived but fully beleive their Missing Perhaps Eight or ten. They have Such a Supply of Provision now that they Will not Suffer their is a Fleet from Engld dayly expected with near 5000 Barrels of flour Mostly Private Property which will all help to Serve them that you need not have any hopes of Starveing them out now the English Papers Say the French & Spanish Fleets hath Joyned and gone against Gibralter amounting to Seventy five Sail of the line and many other Such favourable accounts their is about 40 or 50 Troops With baggage and Woman that was left as gards at Hempsteed & Jerico on their March to South Hampton—It is Suspectd their is an expedition on foot Perhaps to make Some little Incursion into the Country for to plunder We dayly now expect the kings Speech Shall forward it asson as it arives and wish it may be favourable in the mean time I remain your most Obt Hl. Servt
20 July 9. 1779
It is now, a long time Since I have heard from you—And wheather you mean to Continue the coresspondence—I Cannot tell or your Coast So Interupted thats impractible nevertheless I have not neglected my duty and determined to be Prepared exactly at every appointment that 40, may not be detaind here—I yesterday had an Opportunity of Seeing Mr Culper Junr And repeated—again all my instructions ever received from you have keep no Secret from him—And have Consulted every thing and hes determined to Pursue every Step that he may Judge for advantage and is determined asson as I can comunicate to him your authority for my engageing him, he will disengage himself from every other buisiness which at Present affords him a handsom liveing—hes Aloued to be a person of good Sence and Judgment And his firmeness and friendship towards our Country I do assure you need not doubt I have known him Several years, and Confident he is a Sincere freind. And will be frugal of all Moneys he may receive And hath undertaken it Solely for to be Some advantage to our distressed Country—And have determined to forward you for the future Weekly Intelligence if Possible. As I have Concluded to remain here as long as I Possible Can (Although I look upon my Self all the time in danger) for the Sole Purpos of advantage to our Corespondence.
Below is what Intelligene I Could gain from C. Jur, it is but trifeling but he assured thers nothing more worthy of notice on the 4 10 Sail arrived from Hallifax under Convoy of the Romulus of 44 guns with about one hundred of the new raised Scotch beleive the Duck of Athols. Same day 10 Sail Sailed for Cork on the 6 10 Sail of Merchantmen from the West Indes but Brought nothing new only that Adml Byron was a Cruseing for a reinforcement that was expected to Joyne Count De Estang. on the 4 a Packet arrived from Georgia With an Account of Genl Prevosst being with his Army 16 Miles South of C Town on St Johns Island, hardly any thing is said about the enemy in that Quarter. he tells me the Spirits of the Enemy in Genl are much Lower than heretofore or Some time gone and that he hrd a very Noted Refugee Say there Would certainly be a Peace or a Spanish war in four weeks. the times groes worse within the Enemys lines and Protection for those Called rebels is allmost Banished, in fact Refugees they are let loss to Punder within and without their lines Parties of them are hideing in the Woods and laying Wait for the unwary and Ignorant to deceive them puting on the Charecter of Peopele from your Shore and have Succeeded in there design too well, carried of 10 or 12 Men and Striped their houses lately from about 20, the Roads from here to 10 is infested by them, and likewise the Shores that Maks our Corespondence very dangerous and requires great Cair and a Strict observance of the before mentioned Charecters and circumstances that may tend to discover the Scheam of raising a Regmt of Men by a Draughft of the Millita of L. Island is not Dropt nor Put in Practice. I With Sorrow beheld the Smock of your Towns. And very desereous to here the event. from the report of guns it is Judged you made a desparate defence, Freinds are all in health And Wish for their deliverans. and in the Interim am yours Sincerely
N.B.—Culper Jur Should now be furnished With Some Money I gave him 4 Joes on the 8 Instant.
20 July 15 1779
Mr C. Junr informed me at our Intervew that Christofer Dycink Sail Maker of 10 formerly Chairman of the Committee of Mechanicks is amongst you and is positively an agent for David Mathews Mayor of 10, under the direction of Tryon. he assisted Mathews John Rome—and others in effecting their escape Mr C. Junr Wishes for Some of that Ink or Stain that he may Paint out his Charecter to you—dont fail to forward it Imediately. And When you receive the History of his Conduct be very Causious how you handle it for if it Should get to the above Mentioned Persons ears Cu. Junr tells me They would imediately Suspect him—In the mean Time I Would advise and is approved on by Culper Junr Obtain the Mayors Signature and let a Letter be wrote Sutable for deception—and let it be handed him by Some Person of good address Praying his assistance to escape from the Tiranny of Congress which is the terme used by the Mayor—or Sometheng like this Plan I do not doubt will have the desireed effect John Rome is Secretary to M. Genl Jones—it is not in my Power to favour you with the Mayors Signature at Present. I am your &c.
“Enclosure: Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 22 January 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-19-02-0092-0002. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 19, 15 January–7 April 1779, ed. Philander D. Chase and William M. Ferraro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, pp. 100–102.]
“Enclosure: Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 9 July 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-21-02-0576-0002. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 21, 1 June–31 July 1779, ed. William M. Ferraro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, pp. 710–712.]
“Enclosure: Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 15 July 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-21-02-0576-0003. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 21, 1 June–31 July 1779, ed. William M. Ferraro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, pp. 712–713.]
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free– if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come. It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!