Intelligence gathering plays an important role in the foreign policies of many modern-day nation states, including the United States. Which raises the questions: How and when did the United States establish its foreign intelligence service?
To answer those questions we’ll need to journey back to the American Revolution.
Our guide Kenneth Daigler, an intelligence professional with 33 years experience managing human sources and collection and the author of Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War, will facilitate our mental time travel and exploration of this topic.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Kenneth Daigler facilitates our exploration of the origins of American spycraft. Ken is an intelligence professional with 33 years experience managing human sources and collection, and he’s the author of Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War.
During our investigation, Ken reveals the basic concepts of intelligence gathering and the origins of the American foreign intelligence service; How revolutionary groups like the Sons of Liberty developed intelligence gathering capabilities; And, information about the intelligence gathering efforts of both the British and Continental Armies during the American War for Independence.
What You’ll Discover
- Origins of the American foreign intelligence service
- Intelligence collection and gathering during the 18th century
- Basic concepts of intelligence collection
- George Washington’s early experiences as a British intelligence gatherer
- The Sons of Liberty
- Samuel Adams
- The importance of controlling the message
- British Intelligence collection during the early stages of the Revolutionary War
- American Intelligence collection during the early stages of the Revolutionary War
- The Culper Spy Ring
- Nathaniel Greene and intelligence gathering in the Southern Department
- Consequences of gathering bad intelligence or misinformation
- Benedict Arnold
- Treatment of spies during the Revolutionary War
- Nathan Hale
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Kenneth Daigler
- Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War
- The Papers of George Washington
- Spy Letters of the American Revolution From the Collections of the Clements Library
- The Journal of Major George Washington (1754)
- Pauline Maier, From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765-1776
- Journal of the American Revolution
- International Spy Museum
- Episode 065: Alexander Rose, Washington’s Spies
- Episode 129: J.L. Bell, The Road to Concord
- Episode 130: Paul Revere’s Ride Through History
- Episode 144: Robert Parkinson, The Common Cause of the Revolution
- Episode 155: Pauline Maier’s American Revolution
- Episode 158: The Revolutionaries’ Army
Time Warp Question
In your opinion, what might have happened if neither the British nor the Americans had had spies during the Revolutionary War? What would the absence of intelligence gathering have meant for the Revolution and its war?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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