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Treason in New York

In 1780, near the present-day Tappan Zee Bridge, a major spy drama unfolded, changing the course of the American Revolution.

Major General Benedict Arnold, believing that he was unrewarded for his military successes for the Patriot cause, secretly attempted to help the British capture the fort at West Point. On the night of September 21, Arnold gave British Major John André documents detailing the fortifications and troop strengths at West Point. If this information had reached the British command in New York City, the fort might easily have been captured.

André headed towards the British lines with the documents tucked in his boot. Fortunately for the cause of American independence, he was captured near Tarrytown. Thirty-year-old André was hanged as a spy, partly in reprisal for a similar British execution of the American patriot Nathan Hale.

Benedict Arnold escaped to New York City, eventually commanding British troops in the American Revolution. He died an unhappy exile in London, his name synonymous with treachery and betrayal.

The documents found in Major André's boot are among the 200 million records in the collections of the New York State Archives in Albany, New York.