Washington’s Secrets: University Acquires President’s Letter to Spymaster

Stony Brook University has acquired a secret wartime letter from Gen. George Washington to his chief spy for $96,000 at an auction at Christie’s in Manhattan. Written from “Head Quarters Westpoint” on Sept. 24, 1779, the missive to Gen. Benjamin Tallmadge, the Revolutionary Army’s spymaster, focuses on the activities of Robert Townsend, another secret agent, from Oyster Bay, Long Island. The letter, signed as Commander in Chief by Washington, refers to Townsend by his code name, Culper Jr., and refers to techniques used in the spying, including invisible ink.

Stony Brook’s Special Collections, with a contribution from Henry Laufer (a former Mathematics professor at the University) and State funds provided by Assemblyman Steven Englebright, acquired the letter, which will be on display at the University. The location of the display will be announced in the next few months. (Please click here for more information)

Posted in Special Collections & University Archives


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