"Washington didn't really outfight the British, he simply outspied us."
Join us September 17-23 for a week-long celebration of America's Revolutionary War spies! Learn the secrets of America's first spy ring, hear stories of famed spies such as Benjamin Tallmadge and Nathan Hale, and discover the truth about some of the War's unsung heroes who were instrumental in the efforts of Revolutionary espionage. Check out our full schedule of specialized guided walking tours, spy-themed activities, and more.
NEW Exhibition: Confidential: The American Revolution's Agents of Espionage
Opening Saturday, September 16 (on view through September 2019)
Learn how tailors, school teachers, and enslaved persons operated as secret agents gathering intelligence for the American cause. This exhibition features never before seen objects from the Museum's collection, including artifacts and images detailing the infamous story of traitor Benedict Arnold, and letters from the leader of Long Island’s Culper Spy Ring, Benjamin Tallmadge, to the operation’s mastermind, “Spy Master 711”—George Washington himself. Visitors will also get an opportunity to become agents of espionage themselves by using a cipher wheel to uncover the secret messages hidden in the object labels!
Revolutionary Spies Guided Tours
Sunday, 17th: 1pm
Monday, 18th – Friday, 22nd: 2:00pm
Saturday, 23rd: 1:00 & 2:00pm
Explore the Museum in this docent-led, 45 minute tour about Revolutionary spies such as Nathan Hale, Benjamin Tallmadge, and Lydia Darrah. Learn about the tools of the trade as a spymaster, the creation of America’s very first spy ring, and catch a glimpse of the last known letter from Nathan Hale which hasn’t been on display in over decade.
*Free with regular admission to the Museum. No reservations required.
Sympathetic Spies: George Washington’s Eyes and Ears in Lower Manhattan
Sunday, September 17 - 11:00am- 12:30pm
The British Revolutionary War Spymaster Major George Beckwith claimed that, “Washington didn’t really outfight the British, he simply out-spied us.” The General’s master spies operated out of Lower Manhattan and this walking tour will make its way between the Battery and Wall Street, retracing their steps.
Join Archive on Parade founder Lucie Levine on this guided walking tour to discover who first peddled fake news, meet the tailor who saved George Washington’s life not once but twice, and find out what Eagles, Turtles, and Vultures have to do with turncoats and saboteurs.
$20 Museum Members / $25 Public
*Tickets must be purchased in advance. You will receive a confirmation email with the starting location of the tour within 24 business hours.
TICKETS FOR THIS TOUR ARE SOLD OUT!
Lucie Levine aims to take New York’s fascinating history out of the archives and into the streets. She’s a native New Yorker, and licensed New York City tour guide, with a passion for the city’s social, political and cultural history. Lucie has collaborated with local partners including the New York Public Library, the 92nd Street Y, the Brooklyn Brainery, The Society for the Advancement of Social Studies and Nerd Nite to offer exciting tours, lectures and community events all over town.
Nathan Hale Day Commemoration
Friday, September 22 - 12:00-1:00pm
Nathan Hale was commissioned by George Washington to infiltrate the British ranks to gather intelligence. He was discovered on September 22, 1776 and hanged for treason, without trial, the next morning.
Join the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York at City Hall Park as they commemorate martyred spy Nathan Hale at the foot of the Nathan Hale statue which stands at City Hall Park. The ceremony features the SRNY color Guard, a mayoral proclamation, wreath laying and more.
This is a free event.
Spy Week Family Day
Saturday, September 23
Join us for an afternoon of spy-themed activities at the Museum! Meet Claudia Friddell, author of Totally True Adventures: George Washington’s Spies, as she recreates participation based spy tactics from the Revolution. Would you be able masterfully cipher Benjamin Tallmadge’s code book? Could you successfully complete a stealth message to arrange for a spy ring meeting? Come participate in these activities and find out if you could have been a member of the Culper Spy Ring!
1:00pm & 2:00pm
Revolutionary Spies - Guided Tour
Introduction to author, Claudia Friddell, and brief excerpt readings that include:
- The background of her book, George Washington’s Spies, and its connection to Fraunces Tavern.
- An introduction to George Washington’s Long Island Culper Spy Ring.
- A map tour of the Spy Ring’s relay, which successfully transported messages to General Washington to patriot camps across the Long Island Sound.
Friddell will lead participatory demonstrations of some of the spy activities the Culper Spy Ring used to help General Washington outsmart the British and win the Revolutionary War. Activities include:
- Deciphering secret codes using Spy Master Benjamin Tallmadge’s Codebook
- Discovering secret messages written in invisible ink
- Dead drops
- Creating your own clothesline messages
Book signing and Q&A with author, Claudia Friddell.
*Copies of Claudia Friddell’s book, George Washington’s Spies, will be available for purchase.
These activities are free with regular admission to the Museum, or with a Museum Day Live! ticket.
Museum Day Live!
Saturday, September 23
Fraunces Tavern Museum is proud to participate in Smithsonian magazine’s thirteenth annual Museum Day Live!, an annual celebration of boundless curiosity, insight, and inspiration. On Saturday, September 23, visitors who present the Museum Day Live! ticket will gain FREE admission for two. Register now and download your tickets here. Visit Smithsonian.com/museumday for more information and a full list of participating museums and cultural institutions.