1776: George Washington

Father of American Intelligence

Newly-appointed General George Washington knew the Continental Army was outmatched by the British in weaponry, manpower and supplies. He became increasingly aware that the Continental Army had no hope of victory in a traditional conflict. He needed to gain a strategic advantage. A student of military strategy, Washington determined that espionage could be the key to an American victory. Solution? He created America’s first intelligence community. His spy network of military strategists and average colonials used innovative techniques to gather and share information. They created secret codes, invented new formulas for invisible ink, and turned daily activities into intelligence communications. General Washington’s efforts and the work of this first American intelligence community were critical to the Continental Army’s victory over the British. They established a strong tradition of intelligence collection and innovation that remains important to our nation’s security today.

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