Hercules Mulligan 1740

Hercules Mulligan 1740

Place of migration:
Migrated to/Born in USA

Hercules Mulligan was a New York City tailor and cloth merchant who established a high reputation for his products. However, it is not exactly who Hercules Mulligan was; he was also George Washington's "chief confidential agent" and a trusted person by Alexander Hamilton during the War of Independence.

Hercules was born to Hugh and Sarah Mulligan in 1740, and at the age of 6, his family emigrated from Coleraine in County Derry in North Ireland to New York City.

Where did Hercules Mulligan and Alexander Hamilton first meet?

Hercules Mulligan was an early supporter of American independence, and came to be friendly with Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, when Hamilton was studying at Columbia University and lodged with the Mulligans. Mulligan involved himself with several patriotic groups, some semi-secret, such as the Committee of Correspondence, the Committee of Observation and the Committee of Secrecy. He was also on the executive committee of the Sons of Liberty of New York, which was the first group to take military action against the British at the Battle of Golden Hill in 1770. During the War, he served as an important member of the Culper Spy Ring, a secret group that transmitted important military intelligence to George Washington, using such techniques as invisible ink, pseudonyms, and other methods of secret correspondence. Mulligan, whose tailor shop in New York - a vital centre of British operations - was frequently patronised by British officers, was able to glean information as he kept his patriotism secret or at least private, and British officers trusted him as his father-in-law was himself one.

It was Hamilton who convinced Washington to take Mulligan on as his "chief confidential agent", and Mulligan is thought to have saved Washington from an attempted kidnapping and an attempted assassination; for the latter, Mulligan was disturbed late one night by a British officer who wanted some clothes and bragged that they were on their way to take Washington and hang him. Mulligan was able to warn Washington. 

the parade of the first division on evacuation day in new york. drummers and trumpet players are walking alongside soldiers, both on foot and a few on horses.

This did not prevent some from suspecting him of collaboration or even treachery. One of those who accused him was Benedict Arnold, whose defection from the Americans to the British is still a byword for treachery in American history. However, on Evacuation Day, 25 November 1783, when the British forces departed, Washington's army moved into New York. Washington chose to visit Mulligan, publicly embraced him, and later patronised his high-class tailor's business.

Additional Information
Date of Birth 25th Sep 1740  
Date of Death 4th Mar 1825  


  • Does Hercules Mulligan have any family still living in County Derry? Perhaps his descendants still have connections with their place of origin....? Would be great to find out that information. Please comment if you know!

    IrelandXO Moderator LC

    Thursday 8th April 2021, 05:16PM

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