The Countdown Begins for Regulated for Murder

AdairRegulatedForMurderCoverLoRes Two months until the release of my next book, Regulated for Murder. 14 October 2011.

For ten years, an execution hid murder. Then Michael Stoddard came to town.

Bearing a dispatch from his commander in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat Lieutenant Michael Stoddard arrives in Hillsborough in February 1781 in civilian garb. He expects to hand a letter to a courier working for Lord Cornwallis, then ride back to Wilmington the next day. Instead, Michael is greeted by the courier's freshly murdered corpse, a chilling trail of clues leading back to an execution ten years earlier, and a sheriff with a fondness for framing innocents—and plans to deliver Michael up to his nemesis, a psychopathic British officer.

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The Winners of The Nightmare and Midnight Fires

Liz Veronis has won a copy of The Nightmare by Nancy Means Wright. Sally Carpenter and Shelley have both won a copy of Midnight Fires by Nancy Means Wright. Congrats to Liz, Sally, and Shelley!

Thanks to Nancy Means Wright for sharing scoop on a courageous early feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft. Thanks, also, to everyone who visited and commented on Relevant History this week. Watch for another Relevant History post, coming soon.

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The New Cover for The Blacksmith’s Daughter

AdairTheBlacksmithsDaughterCoverLoRes Here’s the new cover for the electronic version of The Blacksmith’s Daughter. What do you think of it? I recently posted the new covers for Paper Woman and Camp Follower.

The theme for this trilogy as depicted through the cover images is “independent women in history who can take care of themselves.” Many people have the impression that women in history were fragile, domesticated damsels. In truth, few women in history had the leisure to be fragile. Especially not during the Revolutionary War.

The electronic version of The Blacksmith’s Daughter is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

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Misconceptions, Scandal, and a Quest for Truth

Nancy Means Wright author photoRelevant History welcomes Nancy Means Wright, who has published sixteen books, including five contemporary mystery novels from St Martin’s Press, and most recently two historicals: The Nightmare: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft (2011) and its prequel, Midnight Fires (Perseverance Press, 2010). Her children’s mysteries received both an Agatha Award and Agatha nomination. Poems and short stories have appeared in American Literary Review, Green Mountains Review, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Level Best Books, and elsewhere. Longtime teacher and Bread Loaf Scholar for a first novel, Nancy lives with her spouse and two Maine Coon cats in Middlebury, Vermont. For more information, check her web site.

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How many poets, writers, and artists were undervalued during their lives, even scorned, and only posthumously called genius, classic, great? I think, among others, of the reclusive Emily Dickinson who published a mere handful of poems in her lifetime, or eccentric Vincent Van Gogh who sold only a single painting, cut off his ear, and was considered mad.

Few, it seems, were as misunderstood and maligned as 18th-century Mary Wollstonecraft. Her groundbreaking Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) was greeted with cries of outrage when she called for co-education for girls with boys, and for female political, economic, and legal equality. Marriage she declared, was “a slavery; arranged marriages a legal prostitution.” For that, they called her a “hyena in petticoats,” a “philosophical wanton.” Even her own sex belittled her: “There is something absurd in the very title,” the conservative writer Hannah More said of Vindication; “I am resolved not to read it!”

Some of her disrepute came about through her own conflicted character. Her open-mindedness and impetuosity, along with her intolerance of sham and injustice, made her an easy target. She rescued her younger sister from an abusive marriage—and society called it “kidnapping.” She compelled a biased English captain to rescue a sinking boatload of French sailors, and was labelled “presumptuous.” As governess, she taught her pupils to love Shakespeare and to think for themselves, but was dismissed when her aristocratic employers claimed she’d neglected to teach their daughters to embroider—and worse, had stolen their affections from the neurotic mother.

“I want to live independent or not at all!” Mary cried as she fled to London with the manuscript of her first (autobiographical) novel.

Her life was a struggle between her principles of independence and her passions. In London, she horrified society when she sought a platonic ménage à trois with artist Henry Fuseli and his pampered wife. In revolutionary Paris, with heads rolling from the guillotine, she lost her own head to the dashing American captain, Gilbert Imlay. To Mary, still a virgin at 34 when he bowled her over, the act of love was “wholly sacred.” When she got pregnant, Imlay abandoned mother and illegitimate child to the taunts of society. Her attempts at suicide after the betrayal caused yet more scandal. Back in London, doors slammed in her face.

Finally, honest William Godwin came along, to offer genuine love and commitment. Their short happy marriage ended in the birth of daughter Mary (who later wrote Frankenstein)—and with the young mother’s death. Yet writer Godwin naively added shovelfuls of coal to the public fire with a posthumous memoir in which he gave full, unverified details about his late wife’s relationships with Fuseli, and then with Imlay and their illegitimate child, Fanny. Godwin praised her rejection of organized religion but neglected to mention her belief in God and her deep spiritual nature. Mary’s letters show her as loyal, loving, and monogamous, but horrified Londoners saw only an atheist and a wanton, an unwed mother involved with three men—even simultaneously, according to salacious rumor.

The slander persisted throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. Although a few carefully researched biographies came out in the late 19th century, it has only been since the mid-to-late 20th century that a flurry of biographies have shown Mary to be the highly original, intelligent, compassionate woman that she truly was. She made some crazy mistakes in her life as we all do, but always owned up to them, and came through her trials with remarkable resilience.

Feeling her to be an admirable sleuth through her intolerance of sham and injustice; and determined to clear up falsehoods and to bring her to full life, I began a series of mystery novels with Mary Wollstonecraft as protagonist. One might call it a Vindication of Mary! In Midnight Fires she is a beleaguered young governess to the notorious Kingsborough family. In The Nightmare, just out from Perseverance Press, her quest for truth leads to a madhouse chase to free a man accused of stealing Fuseli’s famous painting, “The Nightmare,” and to discover the rogue who strangled a woman to resemble that painting. Book 3 will take her to revolutionary Paris, “neck or nothing!” as she famously declared—and to meet the rogue Imlay.

Mary once wrote her sister that she was going to be “the first of a new genus of woman,” and so, despite the misconceptions and overwhelming odds, she was.

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The Nightmare book coverA big thanks to Nancy Means Wright. She’ll give away one paperback copy of The Nightmare and two paperback copies of Midnight Fires to people who contribute comments on my blog this week. I’ll choose three winners from among those who comment by Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Delivery is available within Canada and the U.S.

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The New Cover for Camp Follower

AdairCampFollowerCoverLoRes Here’s the new cover for the electronic version of Camp Follower. If you’ve read the book, you’ll recall the scene that inspired this image. I had the cover image for Paper Woman redesigned a few months ago. Next up is the cover for The Blacksmith’s Daughter.

What do you think of this new cover?

The theme for this trilogy as depicted through the cover images is “independent women in history who can take care of themselves.” Many people have the impression that women in history were fragile, domesticated damsels. In truth, few women in history had the leisure to be fragile. Especially not during the Revolutionary War.

The electronic version of Camp Follower is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

*****

Did you like what you read? Learn about downloads, discounts, and special offers from Relevant History authors and Suzanne Adair. Subscribe to Suzanne’s free newsletter.

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The Cover for Regulated for Murder

RFMCoverProgress14Aug11-1Here’s the cover art for Regulated for Murder. What do you think of it?

Regulated for Murder is the first book of a historical thriller series that’s a spin-off from my first trilogy (Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Camp Follower). You don’t have to read the first trilogy to enjoy the Lieutenant Michael Stoddard series, but I’m betting that Regulated for Murder will make you curious about the events in those books. And if you have read Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Camp Follower, you’ll find Michael’s series a fun read, because you’ll bump into old friends (and enemies) from that trilogy.

Here’s a description of Regulated for Murder:

For ten years, an execution hid murder. Then Michael Stoddard came to town.

Bearing a dispatch from his commander in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat Lieutenant Michael Stoddard arrives in Hillsborough in February 1781 in civilian garb. He expects to hand a letter to a courier working for Lord Cornwallis, then ride back to Wilmington the next day. Instead, Michael is greeted by the courier’s freshly murdered corpse, a chilling trail of clues leading back to an execution ten years earlier, and a sheriff with a fondness for framing innocents—and plans to deliver Michael up to his nemesis, a psychopathic British officer.

The electronic version of Regulated for Murder is scheduled for release October 2011 and will be available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

*****

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Winners from the Week-Long Independence Day

Day 1: “The Mystique of the American War of Independence
Author: Suzanne Adair
Contribution: copy of Paper Woman
Winner: Norma Huss

Day 2: “Why Not Read About the War the South Won?
Author: Charles F. Price
Contribution: copy of Nor the Battle to the Strong
Winner: J. R. Lindermuth

Day 3: “Southern Hospitality in 1780!
Author: Christine Swager
Contribution: copy of Heroes of Kettle Creek
Winner: Carol Luciano

Day 4: “The Patriotic Brew
Author: Tin Roof Teas (Ryan Hinson)
Contribution: Lapsang souchong tea
Winner: Linda Price

Day 5: “A Reluctant Patriot
Author: J. R. Lindermuth
Contribution: copy of The Accidental Spy
Winner: Roberta Hirt

Day 6: “The Art of Housewifery
Author: Sheila Ingle
Contribution: copy of Courageous Kate
Winner: Kathy Wyland

Day 7: “History’s Wisdom
Author: Suzanne Adair
Contributions: Copy of The Blacksmith’s Daughter and Camp Follower
Winners: Liz Veronis and Brian Thornton

Congratulations to all the winners!

Thanks to my wonderful guest authors who contributed so much to this year’s Independence Day. Thanks, also, to everyone who visited and commented on Relevant History last week. Watch for another Relevant History post, coming soon.

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History’s Wisdom

Freedom Giveaway Hop logoWelcome to my blog. The week of 1–7 July 2011, I’m participating with more than two hundred other bloggers in the “Freedom Giveaway Hop,” accessed by clicking on the logo at the left. All blogs in this hop offer book-related giveaways, and we’re all linked, so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. But here on my blog, I’m posting a week of Relevant History essays, each one with a Revolutionary War theme. To find out how to qualify for the giveaways on my blog, read through each day’s Relevant History post below and follow the directions. Then click on the Freedom Hop logo so you can move along to another blog. Enjoy!

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Early in June 2011, Austin (Texas) College archivist Justin Banks made a remarkable discovery among the items stashed in the college’s rare books vault. More than twenty years earlier, someone had donated an original copy of a pamphlet written by Cambridge history professor and classical scholar John Symonds. The pamphlet, printed in London in 1778, bashed Britain for taxing the American colonies without their consent. Banks commented that the thrust of the pamphlet “…goes against in a sense what the whole nation, England was doing at the time. They were at war with the American colonies.”

Actually, the war was quite unpopular among most citizens of Britain. They groused about it in coffeehouses, tearooms, and taverns. You don’t have to look far to understand why. During that time, Britain’s soldiers were painting every continent except Antarctica scarlet, fighting a world war. The American front was a money pit. Imagine what affect all that aggression had on the economy as well as the livelihood of the average Briton back home.

So who was making war with the American colonies? Think about it, then raise your hand if this scenario sounds eerily familiar.

In this blog, I’m taking advantage of a right patriots bought for the American people: the right to freedom of speech. These were patriots like my great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Moseley, who joined the 14th Virginia Regiment in March 1777, when he was twelve years old. He was issued a musket and uniform and paid monthly, and you can read his two-part story here and here.

This week, my guests and I have used freedom of speech to point out gems from history that were omitted from high school history classes and libraries. Those omitted details are often the lessons we should be learning about human nature, religion, government, and society. In other words, they’re what makes history relevant.

We aren’t learning from history very well. Why does this matter? Because every time we don’t learn a lesson, we risk making a costly mistake. Ask yourself what can be done about it.

FireworksThe week of wisdom from history wouldn’t have been possible without you or my talented guest authors: Charles F. Price, Christine Swager, Tin Roof Teas (Ryan Hinson), J. R. Lindermuth, and Sheila Ingle. What worlds can they open for you? Browse back through the posts. Give these authors your patronage.

Then comment on something you learned on my blog this week that made history relevant to you. Thanks for stopping by!

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I’m giving away an ebook copy of my second and third books, The Blacksmith’s Daughter and Camp Follower, to two people who contribute a legitimate comment on my blog today or tomorrow. I’ll choose the winners from among those who comment on this post by Friday 8 June at 6 p.m. ET, then publish the names of the winners on my blog the week of 11 July. No eReader required. Multiple file formats are available.

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Did you like what you read? Learn about downloads, discounts, and special offers from Relevant History authors and Suzanne Adair. Subscribe to Suzanne’s free newsletter.

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The Art of Housewifery

Freedom Giveaway Hop logoWelcome to my blog. The week of 1–7 July 2011, I’m participating with more than two hundred other bloggers in the “Freedom Giveaway Hop,” accessed by clicking on the logo at the left. All blogs in this hop offer book-related giveaways, and we’re all linked, so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. But here on my blog, I’m posting a week of Relevant History essays, each one with a Revolutionary War theme. To find out how to qualify for the giveaways on my blog, read through each day’s Relevant History post below and follow the directions. Then click on the Freedom Hop logo so you can move along to another blog. Enjoy!

Sheila Ingle author photoRelevant History welcomes YA author Sheila Ingle, a retired educator and teacher of writing for 37 years, and winner of the DAR Historic Preservation Award. Sheila’s interest and love for history has become a part of her new writing career. She has published articles in Sandlapper and the Greenville Magazine on the Citadel Class of ‘44 and the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Greenville, S. C. Her two biographies for young readers are based on Revolutionary War heroines of South Carolina; both Kate Barry and Martha Bratton helped the militia defeat British and Tory troops in the Upcountry in two different battles. Courageous Kate and Fearless Martha also refused to reveal information about their husbands’ whereabouts to the enemy; each faced the threats with bravery and determination. Sheila’s books are available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Hub City Press. For more information, check her web site and blog.

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Courageous Kate book coverIn my book, Courageous Kate, A Daughter of the American Revolution, there is a chapter called “The Art of Housewifery.” Not all of the chores that were part of these times are described, but a good many are. In my second book, Fearless Martha, a Daughter of the American Revolution, there are more descriptions of the ways eighteenth-century women ran their homes. Mothers taught their daughters at an early age how to keep a household running smoothly. The chores were endless, and many hands were needed to make light work.

The Revolutionary War women that lived on the small farms were busy from before daylight to after dark. Maybe that is where the saying “a woman’s work is never done” originated. The farmer’s wife saw to the dairy, the chickens, the vegetable and herb gardens, and cleaned house. She cured and preserved meats, made soap and candles, dried vegetables, spun thread to make cloth for clothes from her own flax, prepared meals, and doctored her family.

As I was learning about this myriad of daily tasks, I visited Middleton Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina. A large millstone was there to entertain visitors. The pole in the middle of the two stones was stout, and the stones were at least a yard wide. Turning the pole crushed the corn kernels, and this was no easy task. My whole body was involved in turning the pole; I quickly remembered the motions of the dance, the Twist, from years ago. I have to admit my practice at this didn’t last long, and my husband was kind enough not to laugh.

My grandparents owned a dairy farm in Kentucky, and I was always fascinated with the milking process, though I didn’t have a lot of personal luck. I admit I was leery of the cows after getting swatted by several of their tails at different times. There was no choice during the eighteenth century for this task, because milk was used for drinking, making butter, and cooking. Also, the cows had to be milked every day because they produced up to five gallons of milk daily. Churning is an easy, but tiring process. It sometimes took almost an hour of plunging that dasher up and down in the churn to turn that creamy milk into butter. (My husband and I have butter molds from both sides of our families that we treasure.)

When I taught kindergarten, we made candles at Christmas. It seemed an endless task for my eighteen students to walk around the table dipping their string into the hot wax. I went to Michael’s to buy the wax, but that was not available two hundred years ago. In the colonial days, the hard fat of cows or sheep was melted for the wax or perhaps beeswax was used. Bayberries were often added to give off a pleasant scent when burning, but almost a bushel of berries was needed to make just a few candles. Believe it or not, many women could make as many as 200 candles in one day. I did read that mice liked to eat candles, so the housewives had to store them carefully.

I enjoy using my crock pot to make stews or soups. The smells after several hours of cooking are an encouragement that supper is in process. In those earlier times, a large, iron pot filled with meat and vegetables would also cook all day in the fireplace. The chickens would have come from the yard, or the deer meat from a hunting expedition. The vegetables were from the kitchen garden and any herbs from the herb garden. The wife took care of scalding and plucking the feathers of the chicken. She would have prepared the ground, planted the seeds, weeded and watered the garden, and then picked her vegetables and herbs. Sometimes the family would eat on this stew for several days, with daily additions. Everything took a lot of time. Nothing was wasted. This old rhyme describes how a stew might keep on cooking. “Pease porridge hot. Pease porridge cold. Pease porridge in the pot nine days old. Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Some like it in the pot nine days old.”

John and I met Revolutionary War reenactors at Cowpens National Battlefield the other weekend, and I learned about another time-consuming task called cording. I was not familiar with this, but learned quickly that with the help of a lucet that one cord could be put together to make a stronger, square cord. These cords were used for women’s stays, drawstring bags, button loops, and anything else that needed a tie-together. A sewing basket would have cords in various stages of completion. (There are several internet sites available to find more information about this task, as well this YouTube video to help you learn this craft.) From the little bit of experience I have had with holding the yarn and the lucet, expertise making this necessity would take practice.

Speaking of the reenactors, they have learned to share this time period with us with much proficiency. They are always willing to share their knowledge and know-how of these times and the tasks that both men and women needed for survival. It is a worthwhile drive to visit any of their many campsites at Revolutionary War events, and I encourage you to do so. From the food they cook to the tents they set up, they will help open your eyes to an ordinary day in the lives of our early American families.

These are a few comparisons of housewifery between the eighteenth century and the twenty-first century; there are many others. With the well-being of their families hanging in the balance, these strong and courageous women did their jobs of taking care of both hearth and home. They left us a legacy of the importance of seeing to our households, and it is one to remember and follow their models.

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A big thanks to Sheila Ingle. She’ll give away a print copy of Courageous Kate to someone who contributes a legitimate comment on this post today or tomorrow. I’ll choose one winner from among those who comment by Thursday 7 July at 6 p.m. ET, then post the name of the winner on my blog the week of 11 July. Delivery is available within the U.S. only.

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Did you like what you read? Learn about downloads, discounts, and special offers from Relevant History authors and Suzanne Adair. Subscribe to Suzanne’s free newsletter.

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A Reluctant Patriot

Freedom Giveaway Hop logoWelcome to my blog. The week of 1–7 July 2011, I’m participating with more than two hundred other bloggers in the “Freedom Giveaway Hop,” accessed by clicking on the logo at the left. All blogs in this hop offer book-related giveaways, and we’re all linked, so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. But here on my blog, I’m posting a week of Relevant History essays, each one with a Revolutionary War theme. To find out how to qualify for the giveaways on my blog, read through each day’s Relevant History post below and follow the directions. Then click on the Freedom Hop logo so you can move along to another blog. Enjoy!

Relevant History welcomes back author J. R.Lindermuth, a retired newspaper editor. Lindermuth was born and raised in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region. He’s the author of nine novels, and his stories and articles have appeared in a variety of magazines, both print and on line. He writes a weekly historical column for two area newspapers and is librarian of his county historical society, where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. For more information, check his web site and blog, as well as his Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Like most wars, the American Revolution was a divisive event. There were those who supported the rebellion and those who did not. There were also a great number who were neutral or who adopted a wait-and-see attitude about the outcome.

The Accidental Spy book coverDaniel McCracken, protagonist of my novel, The Accidental Spy, is one of those who desire no part in the war. A young rogue wandering about Pennsylvania and living by his wits, he’s wounded in a run-in with the law. He flees to Philadelphia where he’s rescued and nursed back to health by the lovely ward of Benedict Arnold’s procurement officer.

Dan finds himself attracted to his nurse. But when her husband returns from the front, he flees again and falls in with a band of British spies. Among their activities is the distribution of counterfeit money.

War is expensive. And it was no less a financial burden in the past.

It didn’t take long for both the British and the rebels to learn that in the American Revolution.

Cash-strapped, the fledgling American colonists who were only decades moved from barter for trade found it convenient to issue script—despite having little hard currency (gold or silver) to back it up. As the war consumed increasing amounts of paper money, its value quickly depreciated.

Counterfeiting was a British strategy developed to take advantage of the American plight, and it plays an important part in my novel. Recruiting Tories loyal to the crown and allowing them to profit at the task was a common tactic the British used to get their false script into circulation.

The money my characters distribute comes from several suppliers including James Smither, an actual Philadelphia engraver who before the war had made plates for Pennsylvania currency. Smither went to New York with the British and was subsequently charged with treason for his contributions to their scheme.

Another ploy mentioned in my story was to include counterfeit money with clothing and other supplies delivered to prisoners of war under flag of truce.

Counterfeiting was not something new to the colonies. The advent of script to replace barter and coins, which were always in short supply, had early prompted counterfeiting in the New World. Peter Long of Philadelphia and his cousin Robert Jenkins were pioneers in the trade in 1739 when they began importing plates and false bills from Europe. They were not the last to see the potential for profit.

The British high command soon recognized a strategic advantage in following the example of the counterfeiters. As early as 1776, they began counterfeiting the Colonial paper with the aim of undermining confidence in the money and the credit of the enemy. New York City became a primary center for this “official” counterfeiting, and the British were so brazen about it they actually advertised in newspapers a willingness to supply anyone going into other colonies supply of the spurious notes for the price of the paper per ream.

Benjamin Franklin commented in an essay on the effectiveness of the British strategy, noting that because of the quantity and the difficulty in telling the real from the false “…the depreciation was a loss to all and the ruin of many.”

By the 1780s it took an estimated 600 Continental dollars to buy supplies worth the equivalent of one Spanish dollar, the silver coin on which the colonies had relied for decades.

Unscrupulous counterfeiters soon pounced on this increased opportunity to ply their trade.

When money is involved, corruption is sure to follow.

What the British saw as strategy and outlaws as opportunity soon attracted emulation by ordinary citizens as well as soldiers of all ranks on both sides. One wag at trial on Long Island said he felt if it was all right for the British to do it he might as well, too. Records show that both officers and enlisted men on both sides eagerly joined in the fraud.

Moving through my story are a number of historic figures, including Joseph Stansbury, a Philadelphia merchant who became the British spymaster in the city and acted as liaison between Benedict Arnold and John Andre; Ann Bates, another Tory spy, and Samuel Wallis, a wealthy Quaker who worked both sides and escaped prosecution. Another historic character is Captain Andrew Lee, who actually did go undercover to investigate the escape of British officers from the American prison at Lebanon. I’ve taken advantage of that incident as the springboard by which my protagonist becomes a hero.

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A big thanks to J. R. Lindermuth. He’ll give away a print copy of The Accidental Spy to someone who contributes a legitimate comment on this post today or tomorrow. I’ll choose one winner from among those who comment by Wednesday 6 July at 6 p.m. ET, then publish the name of the winner on my blog the week of 11 July. Delivery is available within the U.S. only.

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Did you like what you read? Learn about downloads, discounts, and special offers from Relevant History authors and Suzanne Adair. Subscribe to Suzanne’s free newsletter.

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