PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR
Following his arrival in America in 1774, John André quickly proved himself to be an officer of exceptional ability. After serving as an aide to Major General Charles Grey, André was appointed to the post of Deputy Adjutant General to British commander-in-chief Sir Henry Clinton in October 1779, at the young age of 28.
Benedict Arnold had first bruited his treasonable overtures to Clinton in May or June 1779, when he found himself seriously in debt and resentful of an accusation that he used his military office for private gain. Over that summer, Arnold gave military information of the highest importance to Clinton such as troop movements, number of troops, dispositions of supplies. Acting as the British Army's contact with Arnold, André proved adept at navigating the surreptitious communications and negotiations, infamously using the code names "Lothario" and "John Anderson" in his communications.
In this attractive letter, written just seven months before the discovery of his clandestine activities, André writes to the Assistant Commissary General of the British army relaying Sir Henry Clinton’s authorization: "The commander in chief [Clinton] bids me inform you with respect to the Rum, that you are to make such an agreem't with the owner as you think, considering circumstances. Mr. Weir will approve."
André was captured with incriminating papers from Arnold in his boots on 23 September 1780 by three militiamen as he tried to make his way through American lines to Tarrytown. Arnold learned of André's capture on the morning of the 25th and fled down river to the safety of the H.M.S. Vulture, just before General Washington arrived at Arnold's headquarters. André was taken by barge to Stony Point on the 28th. His trial took place on the 29th, and he was condemned as a spy. Despite his entreaties to Washington to be executed by firing squad, he was executed by hanging on 2 October in Tappan.
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