Looks at the life of the American scientist and man of letters who led a secret life in Great Britain as British agent working against both the American colonies and the French during the Revolutionary War.
A man of as many names as motives, Edward Bancroft is a singular figure in the history of Revolutionary America. Born in Massachusetts in 1745, Bancroft moved to England in the late 1760s and began building a respectable resume as both a scientist and a man of letters. In recognition of his works in natural history, Bancroft was unanimously elected to the Royal Society. He traveled to France in 1776 and, while working to secure French aid for the American Revolution, became a close associate of such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Though lauded in his time as a staunch American patriot, when the British diplomatic archives were opened in the late nineteenth century, it was revealed that Bancroft led a secret life as a British agent acting against French and American interests. This book is the first complete biography of Bancroft, and in it the author reveals the full extent of the agent's deception during the crucial years of the American Revolution. Operating under aliases, working in ciphers, and leaving coded messages in a tree in Paris' Tuileries Gardens, Bancroft filtered information from unsuspecting figures including Franklin and Adams back to his contacts in Britain, navigating a complicated web of political allegiances. Through the author's keen analysis of diplomatic records and Bancroft's correspondence, this biography reveals whether Bancroft should ultimately be considered a traitor to America or a patriot to Britain. -- Book Jacket