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Edward Bancroft : Scientist, Author, Spy



Trade Book
Pub. Date:
Yale University Press

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This is the edition with a publication date of 3/29/2011.
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  • The Used copy of this book is not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included.


A man of as many names as motives, Edward Bancroft is a singular figure in the history of Revolutionary America. Born in Massachusetts in 1745, Bancroft moved to England as a young man in the 1760s and began building a respectable resume as both a scientist and a man of letters. In recognition of his works in natural history, Bancroft was unanimously elected to the Royal Society, and while working to secure French aid for the American Revolution, he became a close associate of such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and John Adams. Though lauded in his time as a staunch American patriot, when the British diplomatic archives were opened in the late nineteenth century, it was revealed that Bancroft led a secret life as a British agent acting against French and American interests. In this book, the first complete biography of Bancroft, historian Thomas J. Schaeper reveals the full extent of the agent's deception during the crucial years of the American Revolution. Operating under aliases, working in ciphers, and leaving coded messages in the trees of Paris's Tuileries Gardens, Bancroft filtered information from unsuspecting figures including Franklin and Deane back to his contacts in Britain, navigating a complicated web of political allegiances. Through Schaeper's keen analysis of Bancroft's correspondence and diplomatic records, this biography reveals whether Bancroft should ultimately be considered a traitor to America or a patriot to Britain.

Author Biography

Thomas J. Schaeper is professor of history, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Early Lifep. 1
On the Rise in Londonp. 13
Initation in Covert Activityp. 45
First Stepsp. 65
Our Main in Parisp. 83
The Franco-American Alliancep. 107
Gauging Bancroft's Rolep. 134
In for the Long Haul, 1778-1783p. 159
Arthur Lee: Spy Catcher? Benjamin Franklin: Traitor? Edward Bancroft: Murderer?p. 195
In America, 1783-1784p. 228
Return to Normalcyp. 241
Epiloguep. 263
Abbreviationsp. 273
Notesp. 275
Bibliographyp. 303
Indexp. 323
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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