Tag Archives: Biography

September 23, 1780: the Capture of Major John André

Capture of Andre By John Paulding David Williams and Isaac Van Wart at Tarrytown NY Currier & Ives c1876 (Small)It was in September that Major John André, the British soldier, was captured.

He had come up the Hudson from New York City to meet with Major General Benedict Arnold, who was in command of West Point. Arnold, frustrated that he was under-appreciated and passed over for promotion, decided to betray the colonials and join the British. The plans to West Point were supposed to seal the deal, only André was caught, put on trial, and hung. And he was captured in Tarrytown not far from where Warner Library and the monument to his three Revolutionary war captors stand. (The stream flowing through Patriot’s Park between Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow is named André Brook.)

André was told three things: first, do not travel by the main roads; second, stay in uniform; and third, do not to miss the boat from the British frigate that had sailed up the Hudson to deliver him near West Point to meet Arnold. André did not follow any of the advice, and then was surprised to find himself arrested as a spy. Though he had requested a gentleman’s death (firing squad), he was hung. The rules of war were quite clear. Had André been arrested in uniform and been convicted as a spy, he would have been shot.

André's self-portrait (from Wikipedia)

André’s self-portrait (from Wikipedia)

It has been said that André’s execution was a payback for the British execution of Nathan Hale, whom the British executed for being a spy on September 22, 1776 in New York City nearly four years to the day of André’s death.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Historical Society had two events: Cookies with André and Wine with André. A local actor played John André at both events. The cookies event was for children, but the audience was mostly adults (five children out of 25), which included myself. Everyone enjoyed the performance, including the children. It is hoped that, with some fine-tuning, that the act can be taken to schools to educate the young on American history.

I also heard that the wine event was well-attended.


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Filed under History, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

Who was the Emperor Hadrian?

The Emperor Hadrian, in the small museum at the Library of Hadrian, Athens, Greece

Head of a statue of Emperor Hadrian, in the small museum at the Library of Hadrian, Athens, Greece

There is so much known about Hadrian (Publius Aelius Hadrianus), one of the great emperors of Rome, that this short biography will center on his interest in Greece and the Greeks.

Hadrian ruled as emperor 117-138, during Rome’s heyday. He succeeded Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Traianus), his father’s cousin, who had adopted him as his heir. Greek studies at an early age caused him to be nicknamed Graeculus, “Little Greek.”

Born in Gades (modern Cádiz, Spain), Hadrian married Sabina August, the great-niece of Trajan. Hadrian enjoyed hunting, spoke Latin with a provincial accent (he was mocked because of this), thought himself an expert in playing the cithara and singing, was a poet, and knew mathematics and military tactics.

Hadrian is also known for his love affair with Antinous, a young Bithynian, who traveled with Hadrian and drowned in the Nile at 19. Apparently the affair was an embarrassment to the Romans, but for the Greeks this had been an acceptable practice for centuries. After deifying Antinous, Hadrian later went on to name a new Egyptian city after him, Antinoöpolis.

Hadrian’s affair with Antinous was one way he manifested his Philhellenism. Made a member of the Eleusian Mysteries (124), he toured Greece, dedicating the Olympeion, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, in Athens (128). He founded the Panhellenion, a league of Greek cities whose representatives met in Athens. The organization had cultic overtones, fostered the revival of the Peloponnese, and hosted the festival, the Panhellenia. Hadrian had a library built near the Roman forum in Athens in 132.

He died in 138 and was eventually cremated and buried in his mausoleum in Rome, now known as the Castel Sant’Angelo.

The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., edited by Simon Hornbloweer and Antony Spawforth (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

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Filed under History, Libraries (Ancient)