Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/John André

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ANDRÉ, John, an accomplished soldier, who has gained a place in history by his unfortunate end, was born in London, in 1751, of Genevese parents. Accident brought him in 1769 to Lichfield, where, in the literary circle of Miss Anna Seward, he met Miss Honora Sneyd. A strong attachment sprung up between the two ; but their marriage was disapproved of by Miss Sneyd s family, and Andre was sent to cool his love in his father s counting-house in London. Business was, however, too tame an occupation for his ambitious spirit, and in March 1771 he obtained a commission in a regiment destined for America, the theatre at that time of the war of independence. Here his conduct and acquirements gained him rapid promotion, and he became in a few years aide-de-camp to the commander-in-chief of the British forces, Sir Henry Clinton, who had so high an opinion of him, that in 1780 he raised him to the post of major and adjutant-general of the forces. While Andre was in this situation, the American general, Arnold, who had displayed much energy in the cause of the colonies, conceiving himself injuriously treated by his colleagues, made a proposition to the British to betray to them the important fortress of West-Point, on the Hudson River, the key of the American position. This seemed a favourable opportunity of concluding the war, and Major Andre was appointed to negotiate with Arnold. For this purpose he landed from a vessel bearing a flag of truce, and had an interview with Arnold ; but before the negotiations were finished, an American fort had fired on the vessel, and forced her to drop down the river. Andre, therefore, could not return by the way he came, and it was necessary to pass the night within the American lines at the house of his guide, Smith, and set out next day by land for New York. Both were provided by Arnold with passports, and succeeded in passing the American outposts undetected. Next day, however, just when all danger seemed to be over, and Smith had left Andre" in sight of the English lines, Andre" was stopped by three militiamen of the enemy, and carried back a prisoner. Washington sent him before a court-martial, and -notwithstanding a spirited defence, and the remonstrances of the British general, who did all he could to save him, Major André was executed at Tappan as a spy on the 2d October 1780 a sentence perhaps justified by the extreme rigour of martial law, as he had been in disguise within the lines of the enemy ; but the traitor Arnold, through the address of poor Andre, escaped by timely flight the punishment he justly merited. Besides courage, and distinguished military talents, Major André possessed a well-cultivated mind. He was a proficient in drawing and in music, and showed considerable poetic talent in his humorous Cow-chase, a kind of parody on Chevy-chase, which appeared in three successive parts at New York, the last on the very day of his capture. One of his last letters gives an affecting incident relating to his first love. When stripped of everything by those who seized him, he contrived to retain the portrait of Miss Sueyd, which he always carried on his person, by concealing it in his mouth. He was not aware that this lady had breathed her last some months before. His unhappy fate excited universal sympathy both in America and all over Europe, and the whole British army went into mourning for him. A mural sculptured monument to the memory of Major Andr6 was erected in Westminster Abbey by the British Government, when his remains were brought over and interred there in 1821.