Hercules Mulligan: The War Hero Who Spied for George Washington

Hercules Mulligan is a man that played a hefty role in the Revolutionary War. Yet, most people don’t know what he did. As is often necessary in war and in politics, sometimes you ~have* to get a little sneaky.

And in this story, that’s exactly what what happened.

Who Was Hercules?

If you’re already thinking of that Hunky, tan Disney guy with orange hair, hate to break it to you, this ain’t that guy. Hercules Mulligan was born in 1740 in Ireland. By the time he was ten, his family had relocated to New York. This is where his path crosses with George Washington because, in 1774, he’d opened his cutting edge, a pricey clothing shop in New York where only the most affluent shopped. Individuals included in this social and economic rank were British Officers. From his business connections and personal rapport, he was able to marry up.. to the niece of a Royal Navy Admiral. If this was an act of true love, love of money, or love for his country, we may never know.

Hercules’ Political Affiliations

In his spare time, Mulligan, he was a member of The Sons Of Liberty, a secret society for colonists. Their goal was to protect the rights of those in the colonies. More interestingly, he was also a member of a group called the New York Committees of Correspondence and Observation. This group used written communication to converse about what the British were doing.

On Alexander Hamilton and George Washington

In 1773, Mulligan’s older brother, Hugh, introduced him to a barely-legal student, Alexander Hamilton.  He stayed with Mulligan while he attended what is now known as Columbia University (then Kings College). If Hamilton hadn’t stayed with Mulligan-the-Spy/Patriot, he might never have become a man we wanted to write a Broadway rap-musical about. That is to say, he continued to support the British rule of the American colonies. Between his education at Kings College, being initiated as a member of The Sons of liberty, Alexander Hamilton was in prime shape for the Revolutionary War when it began in the Spring of 1775.

When the war broke out, Mulligan, on the other hand, attempted to flee New York but was captured and forced to stay and continue pretending to be working for the British troops. Around that time, founding father, George Washinton, told Hamilton that he needed a man on the inside in New York City. Who else would Hamilton mention, other than his boy, Hercules Mulligan? Spy for the nation is precisely what Mulligan did. He fed all the information he had on the British troops ranging from personal secrets to soldier measurements and dates of upcoming mobilizations.

On multiple occasions, Hercules, in true Herculian fashion, saved George Washington’s life. One evening in 1779, a British officer asked Mulligan for a coat last minute. When he “casually” inquired about the last-minute nature of the request, the officer spilled that that very day he had a mission to capture Washington. He quickly sent his *ahem* slave, Cato to warn Washington of the ambush, and it was, averted. Two years forward, Washington was in danger of being intercepted on the Rhode Island and Connecticut shoreline. Hugh Mulligan was responsible for loading the boats for the British. He passed along the information to his brother, who again sent Cato to warn Washington fo the impending danger. Again, saving Washington’s life. For his loyalty, President Geroge Washington began and continued shopping at Hercules Mulligan’s store. His business continued to blossom, and he ran the store until he was 80 years old. When he died, five years later, he was buried next to Alexander Hamilton, who’d been shot by VP Aaron Burr in New York Trinity Church.

What do you think?

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