Dear Hercules Mulligan

Hercules Mulligan was born on September 25, 1740 to parents Hugh and Sarah Mulligan in Ireland. At the age of six, he and his family immigrated to North America in 1746 and settled in New York City.

Hercules went on to attend King's College in New York City and worked as a clerk for his father's accounting business following his graduation. He then opened a haberdashery and tailoring shop which served wealthy British officers.

October 27, 1773 saw Hercules married to Elizabeth Sanders at Trinity Church, which had been established by the Church of England. Elizabeth was the niece of an admiral in the British Navy. Their marriage bore eight children: three sons and five daughters.

Hercules's brother Hugh Mulligan introduced him to Alexander Hamilton shortly after Alexander came to New York. Hercules also knew the patrons that Alexander had been a clerk for back on the island of St. Croix. Alexander was able to attend the Elizabethtown Academy grammar school in New Jersey with the help of Hercules. This school was meant to serve as Alexander's springboard to the College of New Jersey at Princeton (now Princeton).

Hercules put Hamilton under the care of William Livingston, an important American revolutionary. When Hamilton decided to enroll in King's College instead, he moved in with Mulligan in New York City. Hamilton's revolutionary fervor can be attributed in large part to Hercules Mulligan.

Hercules was among the first members of the Sons of Liberty, which was a secret society that opposed British taxation and protect colonists' rights, in 1765. He also joined the New York Committee of Correspondence, an organization that used writing to rail against the British.

At the Battle of Golden Hill in 1770, Hercules assisted in the mobbing of British soldiers. August of 1775 saw Hercules and a New York volunteer militia called the Corsicans steal four British cannons while being shot at by the HMS Asia. The Sons of Liberty, including Hercules, toppled a statue of King George III in Bowling Green in 1776. They then used the lead by melting it and casting bullets for use against the British. The New York campaign in summer of 1776, in which General Washington's army was driven out, did not displace Hercules, who remained in the city as a civilian.

Hercules Mulligan's views began to rub off on Alexander Hamilton during Hamilton's stay with Mulligan and his family. Hamilton's new fervor led him to write an essay in support of independence in the year 1775. Hamilton then received a position on George Washington's staff by 1776, and when Washington expressed a need for trustworthy information from inside New York City once the Continental Army had been forced out, Hamilton suggested Hercules for the job because he was a tailor to British soldiers and officers, and who could hear lots of talk that colonists otherwise couldn't.

This was an excellent placement, since Hercules saved General Washington's life in two separate situations.

In one instance, a watch coat was requested by a British officer late one night and offhandedly mentioned to Hercules that British plans were set to capture "the rebel general" the next day. Hercules made haste in passing this information to General Washington, and Washington adjusted his plans accordingly to avoid capture.

In addition to Hercules, his slave, Cato, a black patriot, worked with Hercules as a spy. Cato worked often as a courier who used his slave status to move through British-controlled land and give information to the Continental Army without detainment.

Hercules was suspected to have Loyalist sympathies during the war due to his work with wealthy British officers. But when the British left New York City and General Washington returned following the war's conclusion, the general ate breakfast with Hercules and Mulligan was cleared of any suspicions.

What happened to Cato is unknown, but on January 25, 1785, Hercules, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay joined the 16 other founders in the establishment of the New York Manumission Society, which was an early American organization to promote slavery's abolition.

Hercules's business as a tailor flourished following the war's conclusion. He stopped working in 1820 and died in 1825 at the age of 84.

He is buried in the Sanders tomb in the cemetery behind Trinity Church, and the tomb was covered when the church was enlarged at a later time.

A tombstone with the name "Hercules Mulligan" is in the southwest quadrant of the cemetery today.

Popular Cultural Mentions

Mulligan and Cato, part of the Culper Ring, are shown in the period drama television series Turn: Washington's Spies in the fourth season.

Okieriete Onaodowan played both Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the 2015 musical Hamilton. Hercules Mulligan appears as the friend of the other three main characters as first a tailor's apprentice and then a soldier and a spy.


A/N: A happy birthday to Hercules Mulligan! This is a companion piece to my other birthday fanfiction "Dear John Laurens." Hope you enjoyed! Reviews are appreciated!

-HamiltonAsparagus