Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789


image of a hanging
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon The Unfortunate Death of Major André.
William Hamilton (1751-1801) delin, John Goldar (1729-1795) sculp.
Mixed method, 1783.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-52.

Major John André

British Major John André was one of the most famous prisoners of the Revolutionary War. A favorite of British General Sir Henry Clinton, the handsome young major was also popular with Philadelphia "high society;" intelligent and witty, André was noted for the elaborate entertainments he wrote and designed for parties.

André was part of American General Benedict Arnold's treasonous plot to surrender the strategic American fortification at West Point to the British. Arnold delivered key information about West Point's weaknesses to General Clinton through André, meeting him on the banks of the Hudson River. Captured on September 23, 1780, André was convicted as a spy, and ordered to be hanged. Many on General George Washington's staff felt great sympathy for the condemned man, visiting him frequently during his brief imprisonment. André was executed on October 2, 1780.