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Executing Major John André with D.A.B. Ronald

On October 2, 1780, Major John André was executed as a spy on George Washington’s orders. The British officer had convinced American general Benedict Arnold to switch allegiances, but having been caught in the act, André was condemned to die a spy's death. He was hung from the gallows like a common criminal, having been denied the honor of facing a firing squad, like an officer and a gentleman. He took comfort in the fact that it would “be but a momentary pang.”

While you may know André best for bagging Arnold, and meeting his death bravely, you may not know the whole story.

André was involved in the world of secret warfare – of gathering intelligence, seducing his way into private company, and using personal relationships and acquired information to Britain’s military advantage.

On today’s episode, Dr. D.A.B. Ronald introduces us to André – a highly educated and cultured young man skilled in the arts of treachery and war.

About Our Guest:

Dr D. A. B. Ronald has published several books, including Young Nelsons: Boy Soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars (2009), and Youth, Heroism and War Propaganda: Britain and the Young Maritime Hero 1754–1820 (2015). Prior to becoming an academic and full-time writer, he ran his own company as an investment banker in the City of London. His most recent book is The Life of John André: The Redcoat Who Turned Benedict Arnold (2019).

About Our Host:

Jim Ambuske leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a focus on Scotland and America in an Age of War and Revolution. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  Ambuske is currently at work on a book entitled Emigration and Empire: America and Scotland in the Revolutionary Era, as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.