An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life
of General James Wilkinson
Thursday, October 1, 2009, 6:00 p.m.
Patriot, traitor, general, and spy: James Wilkinson was a consummate contradiction. Brilliant and precocious, at age twenty he was the youngest general in the Revolutionary Continental Army; he was also privy to the Conway Cabal to oust Washington from command. Although he was Benedict Arnold’s aide, he was the first to reveal Arnold’s infamous treachery. By the age of thirty-eight, Wilkinson was the senior general in the United States Army and had turned traitor himself. Yet “Agent 13” (as he was known in Madrid) was not punished with death or disgrace even though Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison knew of his treasonous acts. Why? Linklater argues that this was one enemy who had to be kept closer than friends. Wilkinson avoided the fate of his predecessor Benedict Arnold for the simple reason he was too powerful to alienate. Incorporating a cache of material (letters, reports, comments, codebooks) left behind by Wilkinson’s Spanish handlers and little examined by biographers, Andro Linklater reveals the “chilly, binocular vision” of one of America’s most divided servants.
Andro Linklater is the author of the books Measuring America and The Fabric of America.
He lives in England.
Reservations for Boston Athenæum Members: The fee for this event will be $10. Reservations are required but will not be accepted until September 17. Please call the Athenæum's reservation line, 617-720-7600.
Reservations for Non-Members: The fee for this event will be $15. Reservations are required but will not be accepted until September 17. Please call the Athenæum's reservation line, 617-720-7600