J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ciphers and Secrets

The past week’s postings about John Carnes and his hitherto-unstudied espionage activities were prompted by a query from John Nagy, author of Invisible Ink: Spycraft of the American Revolution.

This is a study of espionage during the Revolutionary War, organized not by chronology or around a particular group of people but around the methods the two armies used to gather and pass along information.

John cast a wide net for stories, meaning the evidence runs the gamut from questionable family lore (e.g., Lydia Darragh) to contemporaneous documents (e.g., diplomats John Adams and Benjamin Franklin’s letters complaining about how it was impossible to read coded dispatches from James Lovell, their contact in the Continental Congress).

Here’s a C-SPAN video of John talking about the material in Invisible Ink at the Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York.

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