June 28, 1776
New York, New York
Thomas Hickey is executed for his role in a conspiracy to assassinate General George Washington
A member of the General’s body guards named Life Guards (the Life Guard flag is pictured), Hickey had been involved in a plot to assassinate Gen. Washington, an act that, at the time, was likened to Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Treason.
After being tried and found guilty by a jury of soldiers, Gen. Washington himself ordered all soldiers not on duty to be present at the execution. The move was an attempt to make an example of Hickey in front of an estimated 20,000 men. Gen. Washington stated “The unhappy fate of Thomas Hickey, executed this day for mutiny, sedition, and treachery, the General hopes will be a warning to every soldier in the Army to avoid those crimes, and all others, so disgraceful to the character of a soldier, and pernicious to his country, whose pay he receives and bread he eats. And in order to avoid those crimes, the most certain method is to keep out of the temptation of them, and particularly to avoid lewd women, who, by the dying confession of this poor criminal, first led him into practices which ended in an untimely and ignominious death.”
Strangely, 13 civilian co-conspirators to the plot were never tried for their roles, leaving only Hickey to take the full burden of guilt.