During the Revolutionary War, British officer Major John André plotted with General Benedict Arnold, the notorious American traitor, to betray the American fortress at West Point. On September 23, 1780, André traveled through Westchester on his way to New York City, a British stronghold, with the plans to West Point in his boot. He was captured near the Sleepy Hollow-Tarrytown border by three local American militiamen--John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart, who discovered the plans he was carrying and turned him over to American authorities. André was convicted of being a spy and was hanged on October 2, 1780. This incident was a critical factor in America’s ultimate victory.
Major John André was also an accomplished artist. Shown here is an André drawing of an unidentified soldier ca. 1775. Because of the importance of the André capture to the American cause, the Asher Durand (1796-1886) oil painting of the capture has been widely copied. This example is an engraving after the Durand painting. A 1780 letter from Congress to Isaac Van Wart, exhibited here, praises the service of the three men who captured André and grants them a lifetime pension. This needlework record of the births and deaths of the Isaac Van Wart and Marmaduke Forster families was created by Miss Harriet Van Wart ca. 1822. Miss Van Wart was a granddaughter of Isaac Van Wart.