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The first American intelligence "conspiracy"

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Conspiracy theories fill the pages of U.S. history because conspiracy has been with the country since the very beginning. The United States is actually the result of two "conspiracies."

First, the popular slogan "taxation without representation" that is still on license plates in Washington, D.C. has a deeper meaning. Before the Revolutionary War, American colonists thought they had the same rights as any English person in London. But the Founders and others believed there was a conspiracy in the British government to take away those rights.

So, the Founders created their own conspiracy in response--a conspiracy among a small number of leading figures to fight for independence. Groups like the "Mechanics" and the "Sons of Liberty," led by men like Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams, met in the shadows of pubs like the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston's old North End to plot their revolution. They even took oaths of secrecy. Why?

What the Founders were doing was an act of treason. They could be executed if the British caught them. Also, many American colonists were loyal to the British and remained loyal even during the Revolutionary War. The Founders feared spies and loyalists in their midst...and with good reason.

As it turns out, the British had spies in the Americans' ranks. One of these spies reported to the British that the Americans had weapons stockpiled at Concord. So, the British sent troops to Lexington and Concord on the night of April 18, 1775 because of an intelligence tip-off. Paul Revere actually began his famous "Midnight Ride" from the Green Dragon Tavern. The next morning, April 19, 1775, the "shot heard round the world" changed history.

The American Revolution began because of an intelligence conspiracy. But the revolution almost never happened. The next post will talk about how the British missed an opportunity to end the revolution before it began.


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