Color mezzotint of Benedict Arnold, 1776, London, by Thomas Hart
During the War of Independence, cunning spies, clever strategists, and treacherous turncoats used intelligence to literally shape the course of history. George Washington understood “the advantage of obtaining the earliest and best Intelligence of the designs of the enemy,” and he was willing to pay for it. In this series, intelligence experts and historians explore individuals and incidents in which espionage played a critical part in the Revolution.
Benjamin Franklin: Master of Intrigue
He played France against Britain and enabled General Washington to outguess and outmaneuver the Redcoats. The 18th-century super spymaster Benjamin Franklin is too little known for his crafty management of a U.S. intelligence network during the Revolutionary War. As a founder of the Committee on Secret Correspondence, he had expertise in the full array of sophisticated spycraft—from secret writing to calculated leaks—and he wasn’t afraid to use it. James Srodes, author of Franklin: The Essential Founding Father, explores Franklin’s espionage expertise and how his legacy continues to affect intelligence-gathering today, more than 300 years after his birth.
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International Spy Museum
800 F St NW, Washington, DC
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown