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On November 25, 1753, American spy Robert Townsend was born in Oyster Bay, New York

November 25, 2023

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An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 25 of November, repeating indefinitely

On November 25, 1753, American spy Robert Townsend was born in Oyster Bay, New York. The Culper Ring, consisting of Townsend and his fellow spies, may have been some of the most secretive of Washington’s network, many demanding that not even he know their identities.

While a part of the now-famous Culper Ring, Townsend operated under the alias “Samuel Culper Jr.” He spied for the Patriots from inside the British-occupied New York City, reporting military movements and attempted sabotage, and spreading disinformation to undermine the British. His sister, Sally, is believed to have participated in the Ring as well, frequently passing intelligence to her brother.

Townsend was extremely cautious and never caught – after the war, he never publicized his war activities and took them to his grave. No one knew the true identity of “Samuel Culper Jr.” until 1930, when historian Morton Pennypacker compared Townsend’s handwriting with that of a Culper letter – they were a perfect match.

Did you know? The Culper Ring’s name was modified from a location in General Washington’s own personal history, Culpeper, a small town the future president had worked in as a young surveyor.

Eavesdropping, Théodore Ralli, 1880

-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Communications and Design Officer


November 25, 2023
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