Hercules Mulligan: Spy, Patriot, and Abolitionist

Hercules Mulligan was born in Ireland in 1740 and came to America in 1746. He attended college and opened a tailoring business where he became the clothier of high-level British officers.

When Alexander Hamilton came to America, Hercules gave him a place to live. He helped Hamilton go to college where Hamilton developed a revolutionary fervor. Hercules also had become revolutionary.

Hercules joined the Sons of Liberty, a secret society opposed to British rule. When George Washington needed information on the British Army in New York City, Hercules became a spy due to his association with British officers.

In Hercules’ role as a spy, he was able to save George Washington’s life on two occasions with the information he obtained. Hercules had a slave who was also an effective spy for the continental army. He was freed in honor of his service.

After the war was over, Hercules, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay became 3 out of 19 founders of the New York Manumission Society, one of the first groups in America to fight for the abolition of slavery.

Hercules was so effective as a spy that he was accused of supporting the British when the Continental Army took over New York City. That accusation was dispelled when George Washington had breakfast with him.

Hidden heroes often work behind the scenes. In this case, the outcome of the Revolutionary War might have been different without the information provided by Hercules. His name is little known today, but that does not negate the tremendous contributions he made.    

                                                                          * * *

“Everyone sees the glory moments, but they don’t see what happens behind the scenes.” – Allyson Felix (Track and Field Athlete)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.