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Role of Espionage in American History Essay

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Role of Espionage in American History


Knowledge is power. It is as simple as that. Espionage is the secret gathering of information, often referred to as "intelligence". Intelligence refers to the processed information needed to make any decision. This could be used for business, military, economic, or political decisions. More often than not, this term refers to domestic or foreign policy of a country. Espionage is illegal in all countries, yet all countries have some form of espionage organization. The first espionage act was recorded 2500 years ago. The first book on espionage, The Art of War was written by a Chinese emperor/general Sun Tzu in about 500 BC. There is another type of espionage, counter-espionage. This is the collection of information of any espionage (Ransom 1).

American espionage is particularly important. It has got us where we are today. Without it, we wouldn’t have got passed the Revolutionary War, and our independence. From the Revolutionary War to the highly technical world of today, espionage in America has always played a role in shaping American history.

The Revolutionary War was the war for American independence.

The intelligence gathering ability of the Americans was not very good.

Foley, the author of the book Famous American Spies, says that the Americans were very disorganized. They were not very secret either. They held open meetings in public taverns for the community to see. They relied mainly on the infiltration of enemy lines and by word of mouth (Foley 17-18).

The most famous tavern was the Green Dragon tavern. Foley mentions that some of the members were Sam and John Adams, John Hancock, James Oti...


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...stead the CIA power was limited to just the U.S. and its job was the war on drugs and national security (Ameringer 391).

America and espionage, unfortunately, have become synonymous. Secrets are abound and conspiracy theories fly in our country. Espionage, one way or the other, has always played a major role in American History.

Works Cited

Foley, Rae. Famous American Spies. New York: Dodd, Meard, and Company. 1964.

Ransom, Howe. “Espionage.” Encarta. CD-ROM. IBM ed.2000.

Seattle, WA: Microsoft, 1987-2000

Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodrl. “CIA.” Encarta. CD-ROM. IBM ed.2000.

Seattle, WA: Microsoft, 1987-2000

Ameringer, Charles D. U.S. Foreign Intelligence:

The Secret Side of American History. Lexington: Lexington Books, 1990.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1955.


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