We stand on the shoulders of giants. This is true not just in terms of scientific and technological advances, but also with regard to the unique place of the great American experiment in the march of human history.
Our founding principles of freedom and justice, as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and protected by the Constitution, seem so commonplace to us here and now in the 21st century. Of course all men are created equal. Of course we have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Of course we want to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” But when the words were first put to paper, these ideals were so radical that most people assumed the movement would fail; certainly, no one took them for granted.
That is why I wanted to write George Washington’s Secret Six–to highlight the ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things in order to ensure the American dream would not only take root, but thrive. The stories of the great heroes of our nation’s founding–George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson–are well known to us from childhood, and rightly so. It is important, however, to celebrate the sacrifices, courage, and determination of the quiet heroes as well.
George Washington’s Secret Six tells a story of espionage, close calls, strategy, and escapes of the Culper Spy Ring, which smuggled key intelligence out of New York for the Patriots and became Washington’s most valued collection of covert operatives. Because they did their job so well and covered their tracks so fully, they slipped through the cracks of history and all but disappeared… just like good spies do. But the time has come–it’s overdue, in fact–to bring them into the light.
What these men and women accomplished for the cause of freedom was nothing short of world-changing. We owe them a tremendous debt, yet most of us have never even heard of the Culper Spy Ring. The more I found out about the work they did, the more I felt I owed it to them to bring their story to a national audience. This book is the result.
The more we learn about the ins and outs of America’s history, the better we can understand the principles upon which this country was founded and the reason that millions of people have sought out, and are still seeking today, a life in America because of what our ideals represent. The better we educate ourselves about how our freedoms came into being, the better we can teach the next generation why those freedoms matter, what they mean to how we conduct our lives, and the importance of defending them.
The story of the Culper Spy Ring is more than just a compelling story; the book is also a testament to the power of ordinary people making a difference. The ring included a farmer, a longshoreman, and several small business owners. When we consider what they risked and what they gave so that future generations could reap the benefits of freedom, it should inspire each of us to not only be mindful of the gift of citizenship in this great nation, but also inspire us to regard ourselves as no less able or willing to make a difference.