Not All Spies Serve Their Country
André, Tallmadge, and the Culper Ring all served their respective countries, but William Heron (known as Hiram to the British) did not. His greatest loyalty was money, but he also enjoyed velvet breeches and gold-headed canes. Heron was a member of Connecticut’s Congress and a friend of Continental General Samuel Parsons. After Benedict Arnold joined the British, Heron told Oliver De Lancey, the new British spymaster, that he knew another general named Parsons who wanted to follow Arnold. De Lancey was excited, and “Hiram” said that De Lancey should send Parsons some money, to encourage his loyalty (which Heron pocketed). At the same time, he was employed by Washington to spy on Loyalists. Hiram kept promising results to De Lancey for over a year, until Major Beckwith took command as British spymaster. Beckwith realized that Parsons, despite all the money that had been sent to him, would never come over. Heron’s health was poor and he quit spying, but continued on to a nice career in the Connecticut Congress. No one ever guessed that he had been a double agent spying for both sides until many years after his death.
Spies in the American Revolution, whether on King or Congress’s side, required a different kind of courage than a soldier. A soldier was in danger whenever a battle was being fought, but the rest of the time was fairly quiet. A spy, on the other hand, was always in danger of being arrested by the enemy. Despite the danger, Washington’s spies in the Culper Ring worked tirelessly, and, in God’s providence, were a major cause of the Continental victory. But God’s blessing was not confined to successful spies. Major John André won respect from both friend and foe, illustrating after his death the saying in Proverbs: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to live at peace with him.”—Proverbs 16:7