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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Memorializing John Andre

On this cold, damp New Year's Day, 2013, I journeyed to Rivervale, New Jersey, and photographed the site of the Baylor Massacre, to be noted in later posts.  A few miles away, though, is the monument to John Andre and the site where he was hanged.  It was one of those moments where you are fully conversant with place, history and what happened on the very spot.

We are at the top of the hill, looking toward Tappan Road, just over the border from New Jersey, in New York.  Andre was the British officer with whom Benedict Arnold corresponded.  Upon discovery of the treason to the American cause, Andre was captured through a strange and at times comic set of circumstances.  He was tried nearby in an inn in Tappan.  He asked Washington for death by firing squad, as a soldier, but instead was hanged as a spy.  His last words reportedly were: "I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man." He was buried here but in 1821, his remains were removed to Westminster Abbey, in London.

Washington called him "an accomplished man and gallant officer." It is something to think about that we have homage to a man who participated in one of the greatest treasons of the Revolution, and not merely mark the site of his hanging, but give it monumental status, and on the Saratoga battlefield, the monument to Benedict Arnold is a boot (for his wounded leg) but does not mention him by name.
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