Fall 2022 Educator Guide
In September 15, 1776, General William Howe’s Redcoat Army invaded Manhattan Island. George Washington’s Continental Army had managed to escape after their defeat at the Battle of Brooklyn earlier that month. They left New York in Loyalist hands, and retreated north to Harlem Heights. To control New York had been Howe’s primary motivation due to its strategic location at the mouth of the Hudson River. It would be, for the British, the only way they could prevent American rebellion. As it turned out they completely underestimated the Patriot passion for freedom.
The role of intelligence and counterintelligence had a significant impact on how George Washington’s Continental Army won the war. Spies and counterspies, invisible ink, codes and ciphers that contained covert missions within secret messages were used. Members of the Culper Ring, the "mole" in the Sons of Liberty, and women spies fighting secretly behind Patriot and Loyalist battle lines were important information gatherers and transmitters. Washington's spymaster role reveals a completely different side of America’s first president.
In this issue of New York Archives, learn about two newly discovered stories related to the Culper Spy Ring. Mark Sternberg uncovers new evidence about Selah Strong's role in the Ring and dispells assumptions made regarding his whereabouts during the war. Claire Bellerjeau and Tiffany Yecke Brooks discuss the research behind their book, Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth. In Finding Liss, readers experience the detective work of historians as they wade through countless documents at respositories around the world to uncover the story of Robert Townsend and an enslaved woman known as both Elizabeth and Liss. Historians continue to make new discoveries through the analysis and interpretation of the historical record.