Following a period of increasing taxes, restrictions, and levies against the American Colonies by British Parliament during the 1760's, the colonists staged the Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773) in rebellion, dumping crates of tea into Boston Harbor, refusing to pay the tax imposed on tea any longer. In September of 1774, the first Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia to draft a Declaration of Rights and Grievances against the British. Meanwhile, the British troops were quartered in Massachusetts homes to enforce the acts and taxes; the Sons of Liberty, first organized in 1765, continued to advance the cause of independence from Britain. Tensions mounted, leading to the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the ?shot heard round the world,? on April 19, 1775, and the American Revolution began. The Declaration of Independence followed on July 4, 1776. It wasn?t until 1783 that the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Revolutionary War.
Below you will find links to some of the famous and not-so-famous spies involved in the Revolutionary War. These are the stories of the traitors who almost kept America from its independence.
Revolutionary War Spies
- Benedict Arnold: Though not technically a spy (he changed sides openly), Arnold is synonymous with treason and one of the most famous traitors of all time.
- Ann Bates: Philadelphia schoolteacher who posed as a peddler in New York.
- Miss Jenny: Female spy who infiltrated the French armies fighting on the American side.
- Benjamin Church: Originally active with the Sons of Liberty, Church sought out General Gage following the Battle of Lexington & Concord.
- Benjamin Thompson: Actively recruited Loyalists (Tories), then abandoned his wife and fled to British lines, becoming and advisor to General Gage and Lord George Germain.
- William Franklin: Son of Benjamin Franklin, a Loyalist, who spied on his father and reported his activities to British authorities.
- Edward Bancroft: A career spy hired by Benjamin Franklin to spy on the British, who then counter-spied for the British, and later for the French in 1789.
- John Andre: Hanged as a spy October 2, 1780, guilty of being behind American lines under a false name and in disguise in order to spy.
- Jonathan Odell: New Jersey clergyman who signed a court oath not to aid the British, then fled to New York and worked as an administrator for the Loyalists.
Most Famous Spy Stories
- Spy Letters of the American Revolution: Letters and stories of spies, the spies? routes, people of the Revolution, and a timeline.
- Revolutionary War American Spies: CIA stories of people who spied on the British to help win the war.
Secret Methods & Techniques
- Intelligence in the War of Independence: CIA?s extensive information on spy techniques, and numerous quotes from official documents related to the war.
- World of Spies: PBS information about the methods spies used to transmit information.
Revolutionary War Resources
- Timeline of the Revolutionary War: 1754-1787 timeline, from the French & Indian War to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, with dates and detailed information on key points.
- American Revolution: Comprehensive data, extensive documents, profiles of people, and facts and resources.
- The WallBuilder Report: Profiles of African-American patriots and their work during the Revolutionary War.
Although these traitors to American independence did their best to aid the British, the Colonists prevailed and won liberty for the country after eight long years.