The Evolution of Espionage in America

The Evolution of Espionage in America
Knowledge is power. It is as simple as that. Espionage is the secret gathering of information or intelligence. Intelligence refers to the processed information needed to make any decision. This could be used for business, military, economic, or political decisions. More often than not, this term refers to domestic or foreign policy of a country. Espionage is illegal in all countries, yet all countries have some form of espionage organization. The first espionage act was recorded 2500 years ago. The first book on espionage, The Art of War was written by a Chinese emperor/general Sun Tzu in about 500 BC. There is another type of espionage, counter-espionage. This is the collection of information of any espionage (Ransom 1).

American espionage is particularly important. It has got us where we are today. Without it, we wouldn’t have got passed the Revolutionary War,
and our independence. From the Revolutionary War to the highly technical
world of today, espionage in America has always played a role in shaping
Jaynes 2
The Revolutionary War was the war for American independence.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

The intelligence gathering ability of the Americans was not very good.

Foley, the author of the book Famous American Spies, says that the Americans were very disorganized. They were not very secret either. They held open
meetings in public taverns for the community to see. They relied mainly on the infiltration of enemy lines and by word of mouth (Foley 17-18).

The most famous tavern was the Green Dragon tavern. Foley mentions that some of the members were Sam and John Adams, John Hancock, James Otis, Dr. James Warren, Ben Churchill, and Paul Revere. Paul Revere was probably the most important pre-Revolutionary spy. Revere participated in the Boston Tea Party raid, along side John Hancock and John Adams. After this, Revere became a messenger from town to town delivering intelligence. His usual ride was a ten-day trek from Philadelphia to Boston. His greatest accomplishment is his famous “Midnight Ride.” His trip was not all on horseback though. Before he could start his ride, Revere had to cross the Charles River. He had to be deathly quiet, so as not to alert the British ship ever so close. When he reached shore, he rode to his girlfriend’s house, and she threw him a warm, freshly sewn coat. Then he began his ride to Lexington, awaking everyone in his path to alert the coming of British forces. For the early Revolutionary War this action was critical. If not for Paul Revere, there would be no Battle of

Jaynes 3
Lexington, and the war would have began somewhere else, if ever (Foley 15-30)
Nathan Hale is also another Revolutionary War spy. Hale became a martyr to the war cause. Hale was the captain in the colonial army. Word was sent from George Washington to Hale’s commander expressing his need for intelligence. No one would volunteer for the job. Hale decided it was his duty as an officer and to his country to take on the responsibility. He volunteered in front of his squad, which soon lead to his downfall. Hale had previously been a schoolteacher, and had very strong legs because of it. In turn he was a very athletic and handsome. But looks couldn’t save Hale from his fate. Washington himself instructed Hale of his orders. Today, still, no one knows what Hale learned. After three days into his mission, Hale was captured and eventually killed for treason. This led to the super secret development of the Culper Ring by George Washington (Foley 49-56)
After the death of Hale, Washington vowed that an intelligence failure of this proportion would never happen again. Washington had a great need for spies. He decided to form the Culper Ring. The Culper Ring was a super-secret organization formed in New York. A man by the name of Benjamin Tallmadge started the ring. He used the alias “Culper” to gather
Jaynes 4
information. The ring’s best accomplishment was the discovery of Benedict Arnold (Foley 57-72).

Benedict Arnold could have been an American intelligence disaster, if not for the Culper Ring. Arnold was a distinguished military general for America at the beginning of the war. Arnold’s ambitions however became distorted. Arnold planned to surrender his forces to the British and defect to them. Fortunately, the Culper Ring discovered him and prevented it (Ameringer 25-26).

The best spy of the Revolutionary War however was Enoch Crosby. Crosby was known as “The Spy.” Enoch was a simple shoemaker in his hometown of Danbury, Connecticut. He was the first person in Danbury to enlist after the news of Lexington. Soon after, Crosby fell ill, and spent time in the hospital. After his recovery he moved to Carmel, New York to enlist again. He soon befriended a Tory, or Loyalist in secret. Crosby soon realized that he could help the colonial army by joining Tory ranks and exposing them. After Crosby got the information he needed he turned to a friend who was on the Committee of Safety. John Jay, a prominent leader, hired Crosby to keep turning in British regiments. Crosby joined these groups, gathered information on battle plans etc. and then was “caught” by his American
Jaynes5
friends. Crosby helped this country so much James Fenimore Cooper wrote a play about him entitled “The Spy” (Foley 31-48).

The Civil War was the worst war in American history. It was a war between states and brothers. In this war, it was hard to distinguish your friend from an enemy. The records of intelligence are few and far between. It is known that the South had many spies. The quality of these spies was also very good. Surprisingly enough, the South’s best spies were women(Foley 75-154).

Belle Boyd was one of the greatest women spies. Boyd had a strong love for slavery, and she felt like no one could take that away from her. Boyd moved to Martinsburg, and the Union army soon captured the city. Boyd didn’t like the Union soldiers outside her house, so she shot one. When the other soldiers came to investigate, she threw her 17-year-old Southern charm on them, and said a rouge Confederate soldier shot him. Soon the Union army personal sought after Boyd for her hand in marriage, but she only used them for information. Once she retrieved the information she desired, she sent a letter to J.E.B. Stuart. Boyd kept persuading her captors into giving up very important battle information. Boyd was a great help to the Confederate Army
Even before the Civil War began, there was another war being waged with the Plains Indians. This “war” lasted from 1848 until 1878. Gen. William T. Sherman’s job was to put the Native Americans onto reservations. The
Jaynes 6
Indians had a way with surprise attacks on settlements. Custard’s Last Stand was another great intelligence failure by Gen. George Custard. This battle within helped shape the intelligence system soon to come(Ameringer 63-70).

The next intelligence maneuver takes place in the early 1890’s. Queen Liliuokalani or Lili, wanted to restore Hawaii to its original native status. She believed that foreigners were poisoning her people. America sought after Hawaii because of its strategic placement. The American planters in Hawaii devised a plan. On January 14th, 1893 they sent a letter to the American embassy saying that they were in eminent danger. John L. Stevens forwarded a message to President Cleveland and made it sound even worse than before. Cleveland sent the U.S.S. Boston to land troops, and overthrow Lili. After negotiations between Stevens and Lili, Lili stepped down from her throne. This was the dirtiest trick ever played by America. Hawaii was annexed in 1898 just like America wanted it(Ameringer 72-76).

After the Spanish-American war, intelligence slowly started to become important to the United States. The G-2 and ONI branches were formed. G-2 was the intelligence division of the Army, and ONI was the Office of Naval Intelligence. These will play a more important role later(Ameringer 125,110-113).


Jaynes 7
Theodore Roosevelt had a want. He wanted to complete the Panama Canal. First, he tried to negotiate a treaty with the country of Colombia. Colombia decided to back out of the treaty, which made it null and void. A leader by the name of Bunau-Villa wanted to lead a revolution against Colombia. Villa and Roosevelt made an agreement: If Roosevelt funded the revolution Villa would give Roosevelt the land. Villa led his revolution and then signed an agreement with Roosevelt for the land (Ameringer 19-87).

Cryptology became an essential part of the World War I era. Radio cryptology was the most prominent because of speed. Radio wasn’t employed in war until World War I. The United States used the system of COMINT to code and decode messages (Ameringer 89).

Germany had high hopes and ambitions in WWI. In a telegraph dubbed the Zimmerman Note, they boasted a little to hard. In a transmission sent to Mexico, Germany asked Mexico to attack America. In return, Germany would help Mexico get back the land lost in the Mexican-American War. Fortunately, the British intercepted this message and sent it to America. This was one of the main reasons for America entering WWI. It was also a good counter-intelligence move for America in a long time (Ameringer 107-108).

After the Bolshevik Revolution, the American people became a little uneasy. It also didn’t help the America had just entered WWI. The Espionage
Jaynes 8
Act of 1917 tried to protect against espionage and to initiate a higher degree of counter espionage. This act also helped to curtail the influence of Germans and Communism. This act arrested former Presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, a critic of WWI and many others (Ameringer 107-108).

The idealism of America after WWI said that it was “The War to End All Wars.” America, after the war, turned inward and sheltered itself from the rest of the world. This caused the dismantling of most intelligence offices. The two sections that did survive however were G-2 and parts of ONI (Ameringer 116-127). America did however create the FBI, or Federal Bureau of Investigation. This office was designed for counter-espionage and internal affairs. It was founded by J. Edgar Hoover (Ameringer 124).
In the 1930’s, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party took over war-torn Germany. Hitler breathed a new aggressive life back into Germany. Germany made efforts to take over Europe again. Germany also had a very powerful ally, Japan. On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese attacked the American naval base at Hawaii. Pearl Harbor was the greatest intelligence failure for the United States of America. This disaster threw America into World War II. The story is that two generals knew of the plans to attack Hawaii. They never delivered the message to Washington, and decided it was a “nuisance.” Later the were charged with “Dereliction of Duty” and “Errors in Judgment.” Pearl Harbor may have been an intelligence disaster, but it did
Jaynes 9
help form our system of espionage for today.
After Pearl Harbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to for the OSS. The Office of Strategic Services was formed for FDR to have a handle on the European front. FDR appointed Gen. “Wild Bill” Donovan to head the OSS. The OSS was not just confined to Europe though. They built successful spy networks id Africa and Asia. The counter-intelligence branch of OSS was X-2. It was nicknamed the “double cross” (Ameringer 157-176).

Cryptology was again used in World War II. MAGIC and the “purple machine” were used by the Japanese. ULTRA and the “Enigma” was used by Germany. Once again America used COMINT (Ameringer 141-142).

After WWII, President Truman disbanded the OSS. Many wanted him to keep it, and in a way he did. Truman formed the CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency. The purpose of the CIA was to protect U.S. national security. The CIA gathers information and reports it directly to the president. The president is the highest official in the CIA. The Communists in Russia already had their own organization called the Komitet Gosndarstrennoy Bezoposnostier or KGB. The CIA was very effective both inside and outside the U.S., while the KGB was only effective in Russia (Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodrl 1-6).
Jaynes 10
The CIA played an important part to the United States after it’s founding. In April 1961, the CIA trained force of Cuban exiles to land at the “Bay of Pigs.” Even though the operation in whole was a failure, it showed that the CIA had room to improve (Ameringer 271-296).

The CIA also was used in Korea and Vietnam. The Korean War established the CIA as an intelligence force to be reckoned with (Ameringer 271-296). There is not a lot of information about these CIA operations; most is still classified. The Vietnam War helped the CIA, but showed again it was still flawed (Ameringer 311-329).

A misuse of the CIA and other government offices caused Richard Nixon to almost be impeached. The Watergate scandal helped fuel another intelligence debate. Nixon later resigns because of this incident (Ameringer 305).

1985 was known as the “Year of the Spy.” Between late November and early December three major spy arrests were made. One was a CIA employee who revealed secrets to the KGB. Another was with a Navy spy ring that did disastrous damage. This year was also riddled with the defection of KGB agents (Richelson 388).

In the early part of the 1990’s, the Cold War finally came to an end. Not much is known about the operations of the CIA. After the fall of Communist Russia, many wanted to dissolve the CIA. President George Bush,
Jaynes 11
a former CIA director, wasn’t going to do that. Instead the CIA power was limited to just the U.S. and its job was the war on drugs and national security (Ameringer 391).

America and espionage, unfortunately, have become synonymous. Secrets are abound and conspiracy theories fly in our country. Espionage, one way or the other, has always played a major role in American History.

Jaynes12
Foley, Rae. Famous American Spies. New York:
Ransom, Howe. “Espionage.” Encarta.

Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodrl. “CIA.” Encarta.

Ameringer, Charles D. U.S. Foreign Intelligence:
The Secret Side of American History. Lexington:
Richelson, Jeffrey T. A Century of Spies: Intelligence
in the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford
Bibliography:
Works Cited
Foley, Rae. Famous American Spies. New York:
Dodd, Meard, and Company. 1964.

Ransom, Howe. “Espionage.” Encarta.

CD-ROM. IBM ed.2000.

Seattle, WA: Microsoft, 1987-2000
Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodrl. “CIA.” Encarta.

CD-ROM. IBM ed.2000.

Seattle, WA: Microsoft, 1987-2000
Ameringer, Charles D. U.S. Foreign Intelligence:
The Secret Side of American History. Lexington:
Lexington Books, 1990.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. A Century of Spies: Intelligence
in the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1955.