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Database: Benjamin Church

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B. 1734

Benjamin Church was a talented physician, and essentially the first Surgeon General of the US Army.

Church was born in Rhode Island, and graduated from Harvard University in 1754 - so you're meeting him here just out of college. He'll be appointed head of the medical wing of the Continental Army in 1775, but for God's sake don't tell him, it'll go straight to his head.

Church goes on to become a vocal Patriot - which makes him sound like a member of a weird barbershop quartet. But he was a member of the Sons of Liberty, and his local Committee of Correspondence. He'll even speak at the third anniversary of the Boston Massacre.

He's also got a house in a very nice part of town - being a doctor must pay well.


It turns out Church is either an excellent liar - or he changed his allegiances from the rebels back to the British sometime before 1775. That's when he was caught sending coded messages to the British forces in Boston. Rather than being hanged for treason, Church was simply jailed and later exiled. That took some fast talking on his part. His defense was that he was actually HELPING the Continental Army by exaggerating troop estimates and gunpowder stores. That's some quick thinking.

Lucky for Church the Continental Army only ever knew about the one coded letter. More modern research has showed that he'd been ferrying papers to the British for some time, possible to pay off some of his debts.

Incidentally, his expensive mansion was seized by the newly formed American government and sold to pay off war debts - but not until after it was ransacked by angry rebels. That may seem like poetic justice, but it's somewhat unfair - at the time Church wasn't even living there. He'd left it to his wife, who he'd abandoned for another woman.

Seems he made a habit of betrayal. What a catch.


More on the betrayal theme - in selling out to the British, it looks like Church turned traitor on the Templars as well. I can't decide if I think that's incredibly gutsy or terminally stupid. Given how Church ended up, I'm going with the latter. He sounds like someone who'd betray HIMSELF (if the other him paid the first him well enough.)

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