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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 8. BLOOD OF TYRANTS ~ September 30th ~ October 6th ~~ CHAPTERS 24 - 26 ~ (209 - 237) No-Spoilers

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message 1: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Chapter Overviews and Summaries

Chapter Twenty Four: Commissions & Courts-Marshall


Andre was captured with the West Point plans on his body. Meanwhile, Arnold planned to flee the area, while Washington sent troops to the fort. The Americans captured Joshua Smith and began to interrogate him.

Congress passed a resolution for spying that set up court-martial proceedings and a possible death sentence. The due process included a 13 member panel where officers who had seniority can be judges, and the officer who convened the trial could not sit on the panel. The court could use witnesses and an attorney. This was different than a military commission that had less of a due process and the commander in chief had more discretion and was not bound by Congress.

In the end, Washington did not declare martial law in instances where he could of, especially in light of General Arnold's activities.

Chapter Twenty Five: American Military Justice

Smith's trial was at the Old Dutch Church and he was facing ten counts. Smith asked for a civilian trial but he was denied. The trial went on for six weeks as evidence was presented. The prosecution connected Smith to Andrew, but the evidence to convict was not strong enough, and Smith was acquitted.

Civilian authorities arrested Smith for aiding Loyalists, but Smith escaped.

Major Andre was a foreigner, so a court-martial did not apply. Instead, a "board of inquiry" was set up and Andre could not use a attorney. The evidence against him was hearsay evidence, and he was found guilty.

Clinton tried to save Andre, but he failed and Andre was hanged on October 2, 1780.

Congress supported Andre's trial, but many Americans mourned his death, especially military officers.

Chapter Twenty Six: Total Ruin

Native Americans allied with the British in hopes of getting their old lands back. On July 3, 1778, Seneca Indians and Loyalists invaded the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. Washington sent General John Sullivan and he began a scorch-earth policy.

Sullivan got lost going after the Seneca capital of Genesee Castle and two of his scouts were captured. The scouts were tortured and when Sullivan got to the capital, he discovered the "Torture Tree" with body pieces hanging from it. Sullivan burned Genesee Castle to the ground along with farms and 50 more towns around it.

Washington did not see Native Americans as Americans, only a cruel enemy.


message 2: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig A new week everyone. Glad you are still with us. We are pass the half-way point now.

So, Major Andre and Smith are captured. GW finds out Arnold's plot and sends troops to West Point.

What do you think GW is thinking right now? Who could he trust??


message 3: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Are you surprised that GW and his men fallen for Peggy's act?


message 4: by David (new)

David (nusandman) | 111 comments Interesting how both sides would have rather parted ways with Arnold then the inoffensive Andre. But, a statement needed to be made and it was really the only one they could make.


message 5: by David (new)

David (nusandman) | 111 comments Very interested in the next section dealing with the Indian massacres. Another side of the war which doesn't get a lot of coverage.


message 6: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig And Andre become endearing to many, which complicates things.


message 7: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I agree, David, these things are not talked about in the history texts.

Unfortunately, it is one of the many, many examples of horrible treatment to Native Americans.


message 8: by Tomi (new)

Tomi | 161 comments I appreciated learning the differences in court-martial and military commissions.
The chapter on the "Torture Tree" incident was very interesting (I am always interested in the blood and guts aspect of history!). The attitude toward the Indian tribes was prevalent throughout all of American history; it still appears in some forms today. Indians were the last group to get the right to vote. So while I find that attitude deplorable, I am not surprised.


message 9: by Bryan (last edited Oct 02, 2013 06:54AM) (new)

Bryan Craig I agree Tomi, I think Logan does a good job in explaining the differences between a trial and commission.

It definitely resonates on what has been going on in the last 10 years, and a chance to dovetail this to GW's time. Most authors who talk about the recent past don't talk about this part of our history. They do mention GW's efforts to pursue humane treatment of POWs but not about Andre and Smith.


message 10: by G (new)

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments What has stuck with me, unfortunately, is the relentless, vile, nauseating torture by the then British Allies, the Seneca nation. I swore to myself I wouldn't discuss this here, but my resolve is weak.

I can't help but wonder if Washington's retaliation had something to do with the fact that this was Half King Tanacharison's people, and he was resentful of the position they put him in those years before at Jumonville.

There was real evil done on both sides.


message 11: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) Bryan wrote: "Are you surprised that GW and his men fallen for Peggy's act?"

Unfortunately, I was not surprised. Women at this time were viewed as weaker and and less bright than men. Men did not seem to take women as serious citizens (or enemies).


message 12: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) David wrote: "Very interested in the next section dealing with the Indian massacres. Another side of the war which doesn't get a lot of coverage."

We see some of the Native American stories in history, but not much. They were quite savage, but were fighting for their land too and made allies of those that they felt would treat them most fairly. It is unfortunate for both sides.


message 13: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig You brought up an important point, G and Kathy. I'm glad you said something.

They did have some brutal tactics, Kathy, I agree, like scalping.

Was the response equal? They did burn the capital down and 50 villages. All part of warfare or something deeper going on?


message 14: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) I think definitely more than just warfare. I do not think that our Founding Fathers thought that the Native Americans were on the same level as themselves. Just as Blacks were treated as less than human, I am sure Natives were treated and thought of just as poorly. But warfare gave them an "honorable" way to take care of the problem. Humankind can be very cruel to each other.


message 15: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I agree, Kathy, I think they saw them as inferior, people to be civilized and controlled as land is taken away from them.


message 16: by Teri (last edited Oct 02, 2013 03:12PM) (new)

Teri (teriboop) Definitely the Americans saw Native Americans as inferior. I know it came over a century later but Rudyard Kipling's "White Man's Burden" definitely describes the attitude of cultural imperialism, that the "white man" is superior to (in this case) Native Americans. I knew that this attitude started from the beginning but didn't realize it was so prevalent in the 1770s. Kipling's poem surely expressed this long time attitude that extended into America. You think of horrible treatment of Native Americans in the 1800s/Andrew Jackson/Trail of Tears/five civilized tribes. This attitude surprised me a bit coming from Washington.

It has been a recurring theme to treat other races so horribly then one side or another will use them in warfare against their enemy. As Kathy said, humankind can be very cruel to each other.

Rudyard Kipling Rudyard Kipling


message 17: by Robyn (new)

Robyn (rplouse) | 73 comments not that I agree with the massacre of the entire Seneca nation, but was this tactic strategically successful? Did it eliminate threats from other Indian nations? My first thought on reading about it was revenge, but later I started thinking about the deterrent effect.

About Peggy's performance, smart decision to use the contemporary feelings about women to her advantage, but I can only imagine how livid she must have been at Benedict.

I'd like to thank Logan for the great description of the differences between the tribunal and court martial!


message 18: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig So true, Teri, this kind of belief system was entrenched.

You bring up a good point, Robyn. There were close to 50 villages destroyed and I wonder if that many were necessary as a deterrent. My first thought was over-kill.

This moves us into another aspect of morality in war, right, besides POW treatment. We can see how war can present many opportunities for moral decisions.


message 19: by G (new)

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments I, for one, am grateful I live in an era and geographic location when we can actually discuss the morality of war. I believe Logan has evenly presented the 'kill or be killed, destroy those who aren't on our side' attitude of that time which, in a cultural context still exists today. Territory, resources and/or religion. All those causes of war are here and now. We just handle them differently.


message 20: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Indeed, G, thanks. We do see the same actions and decisions the Revolutionary era generation faced.


message 21: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig What are your thoughts about Andre's trial? He seemed to have garnered quite a bit of sympathy, as well.


message 22: by G (new)

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments I just don't understand it. I have a vague recollection from what was then called junior high that André was considered a martyr of sorts, but he aided and abetted a traitor! Perhaps the issue lies with the fact that he was an enemy combatant. Or maybe he was a celebrity of the period.


message 23: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Yeah, clearly the "board of inquiry" was in the grey area of military law. Do you sense GW was out for revenge and the board was a great vehicle for it?


message 24: by Todd (new)

Todd (todsisson) | 18 comments He was either out for revenge or was really just wanting to make a point.

I don't know what the whole Andre's trial makes me think of Washington. On one hand, there probably needed to be a serious punishment for the point to be made.

But on the other hand, I can't imagine executing someone just to make a point, especially if who Washington really wanted was Arnold.

Part of me wonders if Joshua Smith's acquittal didn't factor in to the hard line stance Washington took with Andre. It couldn't have looked to good on the Commander in Chief to foil this huge plot, only to have the main conspirator escape, Smith acquitted, and then to have to release Andre.


message 25: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Reputation is important.


message 26: by Mark (new)

Mark (mwl1) I find the contrast between how Smith and Andre were treated interesting. It makes me wonder things would have played out had Arnold been put on trial. In some respects, Andre may have been better off by not having to be the scapegoat, but putting Arnold on trial may have brought out additional testimony/evidence against Andre and his involvement.


message 27: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Interesting, you could be right, and he might have faced a commission than a court martial, don't know


message 28: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 184 comments I was disgusted by the way André was treated in comparison with Smith. Of course he aided the enemy - he was the enemy. The fatal step he took was removing his uniform, which meant he was a spy, not a prisoner of war. Was he a spy? I suppose, although when he met with Arnold, he was in uniform. And spies know they are fair game for execution.
I guess his execution upset me because he was doing what he was supposed to do, as a member of the British army. Arnold and Smith were the traitors (Arnold most clearly...I find it hard to label Loyalists "traitors," as I think: traitors to what, exactly?) and they got off. Not the first nor last time that has happened, I know, but it just points out how weak any human system of justice is.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Bryan wrote: "Are you surprised that GW and his men fallen for Peggy's act?"

Not surprised, they underestimated her strictly because of her sex - HUGE mistake


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Bryan wrote: "A new week everyone. Glad you are still with us. We are pass the half-way point now.

So, Major Andre and Smith are captured. GW finds out Arnold's plot and sends troops to West Point.

What d..."


GW is probably asking himself indeed who can he trust. He finds difficulty grasping the idea of mistrust - void of his character. Doubt is running thru his veins and I am sure from this point out he is on high alert and listening to his intuition....hoping. For the first time in his life he's a doubter of mankind.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Bryan wrote: "Yeah, clearly the "board of inquiry" was in the grey area of military law. Do you sense GW was out for revenge and the board was a great vehicle for it?"

GW could have been motivated by both revenge and standing his ground not backing down, making a very clear point


message 32: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks for the great comments, Mal. I suspect the Arnold plot really shook GW. The Smith and Andre legal battles was in the wake of this.


message 33: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Mary Ellen wrote: "I was disgusted by the way André was treated in comparison with Smith. Of course he aided the enemy - he was the enemy. The fatal step he took was removing his uniform, which meant he was a spy, ..."

I agree, Mary Ellen. I get the impression that Andre was just a military officer and heard there was an opportunity to hear about West Point. However, he didn't have to meet with Arnold, and it was a big risk to do so.

Maybe Andre was looking for a big victory for himself that lead him to decide to meet with Arnold.


message 34: by John (new)

John | 167 comments Mal wrote: "Bryan wrote: "A new week everyone. Glad you are still with us. We are pass the half-way point now.

So, Major Andre and Smith are captured. GW finds out Arnold's plot and sends troops to West Po..."


Agreed. To a man like Washington- not only is trust and one's word vital- it is everything. It is something he has believed and cultivated since he copied out his "Rules of Civility" as a young man.
In addition- Arnold was a good soldier- and those weren't easy to come by. Washington valued officers who he could rely on and trust- and he trusted his judgement of character. Arnold's betrayal called into question both; thus the betrayal was both personal and professional.


message 35: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Well said, John. Arnold saw betrayal from GW, so he gave up on that relationship.


message 36: by Donna (last edited Oct 09, 2013 04:50PM) (new)

Donna (drspoon) I am catching up with the reading after a few weeks away from the book. The discussion here has been great and I have little to add, except to say that I, too, really appreciated and learned from reading about the difference between court-martial and military commission. And, given what was at stake had the plot been successful, I think GW really felt a point had to be made with Andre, like it or not.


message 37: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks Donna.


message 38: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks Jodi, it is great you bring in fiction to illustrate your point.

I think the Andre/Smith/Arnold episode would make a good book in its own right or a move or play...

I don't know if you were using a app or a mobile device for your citations, but here they are:

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles by Sophocles Sophocles

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald F. Scott Fitzgerald


message 39: by Bryan (last edited Oct 14, 2013 06:51AM) (new)

Bryan Craig Hmmm...me too, lol. There is a button on the bottom after you click "add book/author" to choose a cover or link, but if the images are not showing up on the webpage, it is a bit odd...


message 40: by David (new)

David Thomas (phillydave82) | 18 comments This section is interesting in that it brings to light the issue of military tribunal vs. civilian trial. Under a revision to the Articles of War, civilians were normally given a trial by jury unless the charges were for spying. Even though he was guilty of aiding Arnold, Joshua Hett Smith was protected somewhat as a civilian and was thus giving a civilian trial. He was ultimately acquitted and though held on charges of aiding Loyalists, he escaped to NYC. Major John Andre did not have the same protections so he was given a military tribunal and not provided the same rights that were given to Smith, including a trial by jury and the right to question witnesses. He was also not offered assistance in defending himself. Washington had been unable to capture Arnold so he saw to make an example of Andre. Even after the verdict was read many people believed Andre to be another victim of Arnold's treachery. Andre was even mourned after his death by people including Alexander Hamilton and George Washington. The military commission was condemned by many but also proved to be effective military justice.


message 41: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 184 comments I was interested in the notes that indicated Andre got a raw deal by (the then-non-existent) Constitutional standards...

Reading the passage in which Smith is telling him to switch clothing, I was tempted to yell, "Don't do it!" at the book!

Were others as horrified as I by the treatment of the Seneca? It reminded me of Old Testament placing a foreign nation/tribe "under the ban": wiping everyone out, women and children included. Logan has noted a couple of times that Washington was much more inclined to treat non-Americans harshly and this really took the cake. Sadly, he certainly set precedent here for subsequent treatment of Native Americans....not that he didn't have prior examples to go by, of course.


message 42: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Great comments, Mary Ellen and Jodi. No doubt GW wanted to send a message; he saw Native Americans as unequals and tools for the British to use to attack Americans.

So, let us ask if Loyalists did what Seneca did, do you think he would burn down a city and all the surrounding towns?

It sounds familiar in warfare, I have to say...where scorched earth was used and especially in the Civil War, the large-scale violence went up a notch.


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