Monday, March 04, 2019

A Secret Plot to Kill the President

According to a new book by Brad Melzer and Josh Mensch, The First Conspiracy, The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington, New York Governor William Tryon and New York City Mayor David Mathews conspired during the spring and summer of 1776 to kidnap and assassinate George Washington and his chief officers.

I had never heard of this, and I have not yet read the book, but I learned of it from a review in The Week magazine. Although there is some skepticism surrounding the allegations (one reviewer commented that there is "too thin a factual record," and another writes that "it's hard to know if Washington was ever even targeted for assassination.") I am looking forward to reading the book and learning more, especially because William Tryon, a Lieutenant General in the British Army,  had served as the 8th Governor of North Carolina (from 1765-1771) before being appointed to serve as Governor of New York.

There seems to be no doubt that Tryon was a dedicated Loyalist whose policies have been described as savagely brutal. Towards the end of his tenure as NC Governor he was instrumental in suppressing the Regulator Movement (a popular uprising against corrupt colonial officials).

According to the jacket of The First Conspiracy, "This is the story of the secret plot against George Washington and how it was revealed. It is a story of leaders, liars, counterfeiters, and jailhouse confessors. It also shows just how difficult the battle was for George Washington -- and how close America was to losing the war."

Whatever is the truth about William Tryon, his legacy lives on in North Carolina. The town of Tryon is named for him, as is Tryon Hills (a prominent neighborhood in Charlotte), Tryon Road in Raleigh, Tryon Street (one in Burlington, another in Hillsborough), and of course, Tryon Palace in New Bern.


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  1. Anonymous12:51 PM

    isn't this how the Secret Service started? Wasn't it originally called the Secret Committee or something like this?

    1. The review I read says, "the whole affair occasioned the birth...of American counterintelligence...."

  2. Anonymous3:18 PM

    yep...that's about what I read but there wasn't much on it. was it real?? is it just a rumor?? it's about like the lost colony...there are just not enough puzzle pieces to make a clear picture. I think James Madison was looking into this years after Washington left office. Who knows some of this info might have gone up in flames when the British burned the capital...another mystery. See, if YOU hadn't brought this up I would have completely forgotten about this!