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History: Old and New: The Intelligencers: George Washington, Espionage, and the Culper Ring in Revolutionary New York

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January 14, 2011

Program Locations:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium

George Washington's private spy network, known as the Culper Ring, operated for much of the War of Independence in New York and on Long Island. Using the Culper Ring's own enciphered reports and correspondence, Alexander Rose discusses its creation and operations, its successes and its failures, and the spies' personal rivalries and friendships, to expose the secret underworld of the American Revolution. The tradecraft of early espionage was wholly alien to modern forms of intelligence-gathering, yet the example of the Culper Ring provides a rare warts-and-all glimpse into the lives of ordinary men who performed extraordinary deeds. Also covered will be Washington's role as spymaster. As the Culper Ring's confessor, summoner, and almoner, Washington's remarkable aptitude and appetite for intelligence work ensured not only that he told a lie, but that he told a great many.
    
Writer in Residence at The Library's Allen Room, Alexander Rose, Ph.D., is an historian and the author of Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring, American Rifle: A Biography, and Kings in the North: The House of Percy in British History, 1066-1485. His writing has appeared in the New York Observer, TLS, Studies in Intelligence, English Historical Review, Washington Post, and Invention & Technology. He is currently working on The Great Red God, a social study of four key American battles.