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Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors
Posted November 29, 2011 to photo album "Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors"
In TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDER, SPY, no one is what they appear, especially with a suspected Soviet mole at the very center of the Circus. But turncoats, traitors, moles, double agents, and sleeper cells are nothing new in the world of espionage.
Benedict Arnold, American Traitor
Benedict Arnold, by Thomas Hart; Detail from "The Unfortunate Death of Major John André"
Perhaps no name says treason more than that of Benedict Arnold, America’s first great traitor. But Arnold not only betrayed fellow Americans, but also at least one celebrated British officer. While Arnold distinguished himself as a military commander early in the Revolutionary War, he soon lost his patriotic fervor. While no one is completely sure what turned him, there are several theories about the reason his treachery: he was deep in debt and needed the money; after having been wounded, then turned down for several military promotions, he grew bitter; his wife favored the British. In letters, he complained the state of the union was “horrid” and “deplorable” and, indeed, facing “impending ruin.” In any case, he formulated a plan to assume the command of the West Point Fort and then turn it over to the British. In 1779, with the assistance of his wife, who conducted some of her correspondence in code and invisible ink, he started negotiating with British forces. British officer Major John André was appointed to be Arnold’s contact, and in 1780, André went behind enemy lines to formalize a contract with Arnold. Unfortunately on the way back to the British forces, André was captured by Revolutionary forces and papers detailing the plot were discovered in his possession. While André was sent to New York City to face General Washington, colonial officers, in one of history’s great mix ups, also sent news to Arnold of André's arrest, giving the American traitor enough time to escape arrest and join the British. At one point, colonial officials offered to release André if Arnold would return to face charges. But Arnold refused, and the British refused to give him up. In the end, Arnold went on serve in the British Army and retire to London. André, on the other hand, was hanged at the age of 31 as a spy, despite having the sympathy of many, including Washington. After witnessing the hanging of André, Continental Army Surgeon James Thacher wrote, “Could Arnold have been suspended on the gibbet erected for André, not a tear or a sigh would have been produced, but exultation and joy would have been visible on every countenance.” Many say that André’s ghost, still smarting from Arnold’s betrayal, haunts the grounds of Patriot’s Park in Tarrytown, NY.