Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy

Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy

by Thomas J. Schaeper
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0300118422

ISBN-13: 9780300118421

Pub. Date: 03/29/2011

Publisher: Yale University Press

A man of as many names as motives, Edward Bancroft is a singular figure in the history of Revolutionary America. Born in Massachusetts in 1745, Bancroft moved to England as a young man in the 1760s and began building a respectable résumé as both a scientist and a man of letters. In recognition of his works in natural history, Bancroft was unanimously

Overview

A man of as many names as motives, Edward Bancroft is a singular figure in the history of Revolutionary America. Born in Massachusetts in 1745, Bancroft moved to England as a young man in the 1760s and began building a respectable résumé as both a scientist and a man of letters. In recognition of his works in natural history, Bancroft was unanimously elected to the Royal Society, and while working to secure French aid for the American Revolution, he became a close associate of such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and John Adams. Though lauded in his time as a staunch American patriot, when the British diplomatic archives were opened in the late nineteenth century, it was revealed that Bancroft led a secret life as a British agent acting against French and American interests.

In this book, the first complete biography of Bancroft, historian Thomas J. Schaeper reveals the full extent of the agent's deception during the crucial years of the American Revolution. Operating under aliases, working in ciphers, and leaving coded messages in the trees of Paris's Tuileries Gardens, Bancroft filtered information from unsuspecting figures including Franklin and Deane back to his contacts in Britain, navigating a complicated web of political allegiances. Through Schaeper's keen analysis of Bancroft's correspondence and diplomatic records, this biography reveals whether Bancroft should ultimately be considered a traitor to America or a patriot to Britain.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300118421
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
03/29/2011
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

Chapter 1 Early Life 1

Chapter 2 On the Rise in London 13

Chapter 3 Initiation in Covert Activity 45

Chapter 4 First Steps 65

Chapter 5 Our Man in Paris 83

Chapter 6 The Franco-American Alliance 107

Chapter 7 Gauging Bancroft's Role 134

Chapter 8 In for the Long Haul, 1778-1783 159

Chapter 9 Arthur Lee: Spy Catcher? Benjamin Franklin: Traitor? Edward Bancroft: Murderer? 195

Chapter 10 In America, 1783-1784 228

Chapter 11 Return to Normalcy 241

Epilogue 263

Abbreviations 273

Notes 275

Bibliography 303

Index 323

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