Prudence, week 1

(The pictures above are of John Jay;  Enoch Crosby the Spy;  and a historical marker of one of Crosby’s escapes)

During our lessons this week, we will be talk about John Jay and the Spy, and how Jay used Prudence to capture and disarm loyalist militias during the War of Independence.  Our in-class discussion lesson for this week follows below:

Prudence:  Thinking through a course of action, and understanding what its consequences will be for ourselves and for others.

In September of 1776, John Jay was responsible for security in the Hudson River valley.  The Declaration of Independence had just been passed, and some loyalists were strongly against independence.  They were beginning to organize into armed bands, called militias, to resist.  Jay didn’t want to have to fight the loyalists — he thought it would be best to find them while they were still organizing, and quietly arrest them.  To do this, he used a secret agent — Enoch Crosby.  Crosby would pretend to be a loyalist himself, and would join a militia group.  He would find out who was involved, and where and when they were going to meet — and then secretly get word to Jay.  Jay would then have a company of Rangers on hand to arrest and disarm the loyalists when they met.  Crosby would be arrested too, and Jay would arrange for him to seem to escape — once he climbed out of a bathroom window and ran through a cornfield while sentries shot at him with muskets without bullets.  After doing this for about 9 months, Jay decided it was getting too dangerous for Crosby.  Although Crosby wanted to continue, Jay was definite that it was time to stop, and stuck to his decision.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  John Jay knew that if the Rangers fought the loyalists, many people would be hurt.  If the Rangers took them by surprise and disarmed them, they could capture the loyalists without fighting them.  Which was the prudent choice?
  2.   If Jay had just let Crosby go after arresting him as a member of a loyalist militia, would the loyalists have suspected he was a Spy?  Do you think it was prudent to arrange for Crosby to escape?
  3.   After they had arrested him several times, and he had escaped, the Rangers were convinced that Crosby was a particularly dangerous loyalist.  The loyalists were starting to suspect that he might be a spy.  Do you think it was prudent for Jay to decide to stop, even though Crosby was a successful spy?

Please share your answers to these questions, and your thoughts about Prudence, with our school community by using the form below.

© 2018 T.R. Booker

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