The First Conspiracy (Young Reader's Edition): The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer unravels the truth behind the secret assassination attempt on George Washington and how the plot helped create the CIA and the FBI in this young reader's adaptation for younger audiences.

1776. The early days of the Revolutionary War.

It supposedly began with Thomas Hickey, a private in the Continental Army, and New York governor William Tryon. In an astonishing power grab, they plotted to kill Hickey's boss: a man by the name of George Washington.

In the end, Hickey was caught, brought to trial, and found guilty. It would seem he became the first person in the new nation to be executed for treason.

But to this day, nobody knows for sure if this story is true. In The First Conspiracy, Brad Meltzer sheds light on the close-kept secrets and compelling details surrounding this story and exposes the history of how the assassination plot catalyzed the creation of the CIA and FBI.

This page-turning investigation offers young readers an in-depth look at the facts and remaining questions that surround this contested historical event.---from the publisher

368 pages                          978-1250244833                      Ages 10 and up

Keywords:  biography, memoir, American history, secrets, president, conspiracy, assassination, assassin, crime, criminal investigation, spies, politics, government, Colonial Times, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, 14 year old, narrative nonfiction, Social Studies Curriculum


“Sing a song of America

Once she was a young girl with her heart on fire

Born in the dust of the magic of history

It all goes on yeah the dream goes on”

-- Paul Kantner and Marty Balin, “America” (1986)

“Early the next morning, July 3, 1775, Washington and his generals ride to the encampments, where the sound of fifes and drums greets them.

It’s time to meet the troops.

Nothing in Washington’s experience, as an officer for the British during the French and Indian War or as a leader of the Virginia militia, could have prepared him for what he is about to see.

The troops are, as one observer says, ‘the most wretchedly clothed, and as dirty a set of mortals as ever disgraced the name of a soldier.’ In fact, many of them aren’t really soldiers at all. They are farmers, common laborers, ex-criminals, and beggars--some suspiciously old, some suspiciously young.

Many wield pitchforks and shovels as weapons, while others carry no weapons at all. Some of them wear the uniforms of the local colonial militias from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey, but a majority wear dirty work shirts and tattered pants.

The men had arrived and are still arriving from all directions, from different colonies, with no system in place for how to organize or feed them. They are spread out in disorganized encampments over a stretch of several miles, with no running water or sanitation system.”

The humble beginnings of the Continental army, as presented in this thrilling and thoroughly entertaining history book, may cause some readers to think of the Christmas story. And justifiably so. The tale of the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia, and the improbable success of the ragged forces assembled under George Washington, is our nation’s own Nativity story.

How were these “raw and undisciplined recruits” who were “in a constant condition of being insufficiently clothed, fed, arms, and supplied” able to defeat “the best-trained armies in the world”? The authors foreshadow how the colonies’ success would be built upon intelligence, cunning, and secrecy. “These,” the authors explain, “are the tools of war.”

THE FIRST CONSPIRACY is an action-packed thriller. The plots, schemes, and conspiracies--some heroic and others dastardly--overlap and intersect with one another. The first half of the book is the setup. The authors introduce and move between various characters and settings. In the second half of the book, all the pieces of the conspiracy come together just when the British are readying to attack New York and the Founding Fathers are finalizing and sending out the Declaration of Independence.

Amidst this drama, we meet essential cast members such as Henry Knox, the namesake of Fort Knox, Charles Lee, the namesake of Fort Lee, NJ, William Tryon, the last British governor of New York and namesake of Fort Tryon Park, and John Jay, later the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Others, about whom I’ve never heard before, play pivotal roles in the plot to kill George Washington. This scheme may be the focus of the book, but the bigger story here is about the opening year in the war for independence.

There are lots of juicy historical tidbits. For instance, if you’ve ever encountered the term “war chest” in reference to political campaigns, you’ll come to understand its surprising and literal genesis.

This is the young readers edition of the book. Although high school students might well gravitate or be guided to the original adult edition, readers ages 10-14 will be absolutely thrilled and absorbed by this splendid adaptation.

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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