(APRIL 10, 1732–JULY 28, 1805)

Nathaniel Sackett was a spymaster in New York from 1776 to 1777. Sackett, a merchant in Fishkill, New York, helped organize his local committee of safety and became a member from Dutchess County of the New York Provincial Convention in 1776. On September 21, 1776, the convention appointed him to its newly formed Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies; he had direct responsibility for supervising its intelligence activities and the militia units arresting those suspected of "disaffection." In February 1777 on the recommendation of William Duer, then chairman of the committee, General Washington authorized Sackett to form an organized intelligence network for the region. Washington promised him $50 per month for his "care and trouble" and $500 per month for intelligence expenditures. Sackett's ring collected information on British recruitment in the Hudson Valley and also conveyed information from British-occupied Long Island across the Long Island Sound to Connecticut and from there to the army in New York. Sackett developed a system for disguising agents as enemy sympathizers with realistic cover stories and placing them behind British lines, and outlined his various new forms of spycraft in a letter to Washington of April 7, 1777. However, Washington complained Sackett failed to relay reliable intelligence in a timely manner and dismissed him after an abortive mission. Sackett was later a sutler for the Continental Army. In 1785 he failed to persuade Congress to create a new state in the Ohio Valley and in 1789 to receive a federal political appointment from Washington.

—Glenn P Hastedt, Steven W Guerrier, eds, Spies, Wiretaps, and Secret Operations: An Encyclopedia of American Espionage. ABC-CLIO (2011).