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The Spies of the American Revolution: Nathan Hale

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The spies of the American Revolution turned the tides of the American Revolution to favor the Patriots. In order to win this war they would have composed mystery messages with invisible ink, create hidden messages to discover British plans, and report what they have learned. When Nathan Hale got caught while trying to deliver a message, watched people get caught then killed for spying on the opposing side.

Nathan Hale was a spy for the Patriots, he was undeniably courageous, but he wasn’t a very skilled or clever officer. It only took a couple of days before his suspicious questions hooked the attention from the local loyalists, and he later blew his cover after a British promotor approached him in a tavern and pretended to be a fellow Patriot spy. Hale was arrested the next day and discovered to have compromising documents buried beneath the soles of his shoes. Hale, the 21-year-old Patriot encountered the gallows with “gentle dignity” before reciting the brilliant words, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

The invisible ink was a very initial spy technique, it helped the Patriots receive letters with secret information that no one would understand but themselves. George Washington informed his agents in the use of what was mentioned as the ‘sympathetic stain’, noting that the ink ‘will not only render…

communications less exposed to detection but relieve the fears of such persons as may be entrusted in its conveyance.’ George Washington spoke these words because this was the technique that know one could read but the Patriots and even if one of them got caught, like Nathan Hale did, the Loyalists wouldn’t know what the letter was saying. The soldier who received this letter placed the paper over the flame of a candle or provided it with a chemical reagent, such as sodium carbonate, which would reveal the letter’s invisible contents. Now, without this invention that was made up of a chemical solution out of tannic acid, everyone would know what their battle plan was.

The Culper Code Book was invented by Benjamin Tallmadge in 1778, to gather information from the British unit and military plans from the New York area. Informants used fake names and a numerical code book consisting of seven hundred and sixty-three numbers representing words, names, and places to communicate their information. Developed by Tallmadge, the Culper Code Book was essential in protecting the vital communications and identities of this important intelligence gathering group.

From the incident with Nathan Hale, to the invention of the invisible ink, and the invention of the Culper Code Book by Benjamin Tallmadge. Nathan Hale, the very courageous spy with not that much skill had been caught by the Loyalists, then arrested and hanged. The invisible ink was a very useful technique the Patriots had. It helped their spies get their information without having the Loyalists find out. Now the Culper Code Book was used to gather information from the British unit and military plans from the New York area. It is a valuable technique from the Patriots’ side.

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