Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/André, John

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ANDRÉ, John, soldier, b. in London in 1751, of Swiss parents; d. at Tappan, N. Y., 2 Oct., 1780. In the autumn of 1775 he was taken prisoner at St. John's by Gen. Montgomery. He afterward served on the staff of Gen. Gray, and then on that of Sir Henry Clinton, who, in 1779, made him adjutant-general of the British army in America. Under the name of “John Anderson” he conducted the treacherous negotiations with Benedict Arnold for the surrender of West Point. On the night of 21 Sept., 1780, he had an interview with Arnold in the woods near Stony Point, and took breakfast with him in the house of Joshua Smith, who was not privy to the plot. On leaving him, Arnold gave him six papers containing full information as to the state of the defences at West Point, and also passes enabling him to return either by land or by water to New York. Smith persuaded him to take the journey by land, and accompanied him part of the way. Contrary to Clinton's positive instructions, André adopted a disguise, and, contrary to Arnold's positive instructions, Smith left him before he had reached the British lines. Soon after Smith left him he was stopped by three young men whom he supposed to be tories, and incautiously let them know that he was a British officer. The young men, who were patriotic Americans, searched his person, and, finding the treasonable documents in his stockings, arrested him. He was tried by a board of six major-generals and eight brigadiers, found guilty of acting as a spy, and condemned to the gallows. His remains were buried on the spot where he suffered, but in 1821 they were taken to England and interred in Westminster Abbey. His hard fate has been much commiserated on account of his engaging personal qualities, but the justice of his sentence is generally conceded by British writers as well as American. Each of André's captors — John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart — received from congress a silver medal and an annuity of $200. His life has been written by Sparks, in his “American Biographies,” and much more fully by Winthrop Sargent, “Life and Career of Major John André” (Boston, 1801).