Skip to content

Allison Blogs for The Daily Mayo: Spy Documents in Foot, Foot in Mouth

5 Ways that John André could have avoided the hangman’s noose

Major John André, the dashing British spymaster and Benedict Arnold’s infamous co-conspirator, met his inglorious end by hanging at the gallows. André, because he was captured behind enemy lines in plain clothes, was not entitled to an officer exchange or prisoner swap. General George Washington personally saw to it that the spy was tried and executed, as this would send a message to the British. And perhaps George Washington still remembered the young American patriot, Nathan Hale, who had been similarly treated by the British just a few years earlier.


Spying was a dangerous job, to be sure. But even in spite of Andre’s ill-fated errand and the rules of warfare, the British spy might still have escaped his fate at the gallows. Here are five ways this might have happened.

1. John André could have carried a verbal message, rather than stuffing the suspicious documents into his boots, where they were discovered:

When the British General, Sir Henry Clinton, approved John André’s mission to meet with Benedict Arnold and to acquire the top-secret information that would facilitate the British capture of the critical fort at West Point, he ordered his spy not to accept any documents or papers from the American. Such physical evidence, if discovered by the other side, would surely convict André. As such, the British spy should carry nothing away from that illicit meeting but a verbal message.

Whether out of arrogance, recklessness, or some other motive, André did not heed this order…Read the full article here…

Share This Post

Additional News

Allison Pataki
Allison's Blog

Finding Margaret Fuller 1 Month

Hello, and happy spring! In upstate New York it really feels that way today. It’s perfect weather for stealing outside for some sunshine and reading.