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Today, our story is about Hercules Mulligan, tailor to the elites and spy for the Americans. You probably have never heard of Hercules Mulligan, but he saved George Washington’s life – twice.
Transcript of the show

The American Patriot podcast episode Number six

Hello and welcome to the American Patriot podcast. Thanks so much for Joining Me. My name’s Dan Gaskell and I love history and stories of great American patriots. This podcast will focus on great Americans from all walks of life, whether it’s from the military, first responders, defenders or heroes of any type. I’m here to relate their stories and show how their patriotism, dedication and service to their country and fellow citizens shone through. This podcast is not, I repeat, not a political conversation. It’s simply a celebration of great American patriots.

The story today involves a man I bet none of you have heard of his name. Hercules Mulligan. We’re all familiar with the legendary heroes who fought to secure our independence from the British George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere in his midnight ride. But there are many other influencers of the Revolutionary War whose names don’t immediately come to mind when reflecting on the birth of this great nation. Their efforts and contributions are no less significant or important to secure the freedoms we enjoy every day.

The heroics of their lives and storage remain unsung, like many of those serving in the country in the shadows today. Today we’re gonna focus on one hero, a man who risked his life to save General George Washington – twice. A man who helped convert Alexander Hamilton from a Tory to a patriot, a man who successfully ran his own business and used that business to live among the British, befriending them and covertly acquiring information while overtly tarnishing his reputation with patriots. That man is Hercules Mulligan.

Hercules was born in Ireland and 1740. He and his family immigrated to New York when he was about six years old. In 1774 he opened a clothing emporium catering to the creme de la creme of New York society. He also catered to wealthy British businessman and high ranking British military officers. He employed several tailors but preferred to greet the customers himself, taking the customary measurements and building report among his clientele. His business thrived, and he established a solid reputation with the gentleman of the upper class and with the British officers.

It was his associations within these circles that made it acceptable for him to marry the niece of Admiral Sanders of the Royal Navy. Hercules harbored no allegiance toward the British, despite his wife’s lineage or the demographics of his customers. In fact, he was a member of the Sons of Liberty, a secret society created to protect the rights of the colonists. He was also a member of the New York Committees of Correspondents and Observation, a group opposing the British through written communications. Hercules patriotic tendencies were established a good 10 years before the start of the Revolutionary War.

In 1773, Hercules opened his doors to a young student named Alexander Hamilton, who was in New York to complete his studies. The two had been introduced by Hercules’ older brother Hugh. Hamilton took up bored with Hercules while attending King’s College, now Columbia University. It was during this time that Hercules, along with several others, had a profound impact act on Hamilton. Originally, Hamilton supported British rule over the colonies. He then began to develop his pro Patriot fuse from a variety of sources, among them New Jersey Governor William Livingston, who was one of the signers of the U. S. Constitution, with whom he lived in New Jersey before attending King’s college.

Hamilton then moved in with Hercules in New York and they had many late night discussions further influencing Hamilton’s views. Hamilton soon joined the Sons of Liberty, and at the age of 18 he wrote a persuasive essay defending the case for independence. His letter was one of the many essays instrumental in hastening the Revolution, especially in New York. The Revolutionary War began in April 1775.

After Washington was defeated at Long Island, Hercules tried to leave New York. He was stopped the next day by party of Tory militiamen who captured him and dragged him back to the city. He reluctantly returned and carried on, outfitting the British officers. When General George Washington mentioned to Alexander Hamilton, now Washington’s aide de camp, he was looking for a spy on the inside with New York City, Hamilton recommended his old friend Hercules Mulligan. Hercules excitedly agreed. Hercules continued to provide service for British officers, collecting their measurements and secrets alike. He played to the officers vanities, stroking their egos to elicit statements of speculation.

When officers requested repairs to their uniform, he would ask the date they needed them back when customer after customer gave the same date, he could surmise the day of their next movement. He would then dispatch his African American slave, Kato, to Washington’s headquarters in New Jersey to share the information on the redeployment of a particular unit. Late one evening, and excited and flustered, British officer called upon Hercules to provide him with a coat. Hercules complied and inquired about the late hour of such a request. Eager officer all too readily responded that he was departing on a mission to capture General Washington within the day. After hurrying the officer from his store, Hercules, immediately dispatch Kato to alert Washington of his impending capture. The British had learned the location where Washington would be meeting with his troops and had planned an ambush. Thanks to the acquisition of this information, General Washington was not captured the following day.

Two years later, Hercules was again afforded the opportunity to save the life of General George Washington. In February 17 81 British General Sir Henry Clinton learned of Washington’s plans to travel to Rhode Island via the Connecticut shoreline. He ordered 300 troops onto transport boats to intercept Washington and who was responsible for loading these boats with provisions for this journey. None other than Hugh Hercules is older brother, Hugh, promptly advise Hercules of the plan. Hercules dispatched Kato and Washington immediately rerouted his course and arrive safely in New England.

Now Hercules and Kato did not survive the war unscathed. Kato was once captured and beaten on a return trip to New York after passing intelligence to Washington’s headquarters. Hercules was suspected by the British on several occasions and even spent time in jail before using his Irish charm to slip away back to his emporium. The greatest danger came to the tailor following the end of the war. In 1783 Hercules had appeared too close with the British officers despite his true intentions, and he feared tarring and feathering or some other act of revenge. Anyone who supported the British was in danger. General Washington, however, had not forgotten his confidential correspondent. He paid a visit to Hercules’ house. After attending the evacuation day parade in New York. He had breakfast with Hercules and then was shopping in his store, alleviating any doubts as to which side Hercules had been on during the war.

After becoming president, Washington continued to update his wardrobe from the Irish Taylor. Hercules took advantage of this unique public relations opportunity and changed the sign outside his shop to say clothier to General Washington. Hercules is business remained a success for years to come. He and Hamilton became two of the 19 founding members of the New York Manu Mission Society, an early American organization founded to promote the abolition of slavery. He retired when he was 80 years old and died five years later.

Hercules is buried in New York’s Trinity Church, next to his old friend, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton had been killed by Vice President Aaron Burr. The vice president had challenged Hamilton to a duel. Burr shot and mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the following day. Hamilton was one of America’s founding fathers. He was the first secretary of the Treasury and appointed by George Washington. He distinguished himself as one of New York City’s most prestigious attorneys, and he convinced New Yorkers to agree to ratify the U. S Constitution. It was the late night discussions with Hercules Mulligan that set him on this path.

So on the next fourth of July, while you gaze upwards as bursts of red, white and blue color explode in the night sky, think about these lesser known heroes think about the men and women whose small contributions made large impacts on the founding of this great nation. Think of Hercules Mulligan. A special thanks goes to C i. A dot org’s for this story of Hercules Mulligan.

Thanks for joining me this week on the American Patriot podcast. You can subscribe to the show at Apple podcasts, Google play or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also access all the past episodes by going to my Web site at American Patriot podcast dot com. As always, I would love your input and ideas about future shows. Also, if you know of a great American patriot, I would like to hear from you. Maybe their story will appear on a future show. Feel free to contact me at Dan at American Patriot podcast dot com.

Until next week. Here are the words of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States. Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for protected and handed on for them to do the same. For one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States, where men were free