Friday, February 9, 2024

Charles Thomson: Revolutionary Patriot and Intelligence Operative


Charles Thomson, a pivotal figure in the American Revolution and the early years of the United States, is often overlooked in discussions of the nation's founding. Born in Ireland in 1729, Thomson immigrated to the American colonies at a young age and would go on to play a crucial role in shaping the course of American history as a secretary to the Continental Congress and the custodian of the Declaration of Independence. His contributions to the cause of American independence and his tireless dedication to the principles of liberty and self-governance have earned him a place of honor in the annals of American history.

Thomson's early life in Ireland was marked by hardship and adversity. Orphaned at a young age, he immigrated to the American colonies in 1739, where he was taken in by relatives in Pennsylvania. Despite his humble beginnings, Thomson displayed a keen intellect and a passion for learning, eventually earning a scholarship to attend the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), where he studied Latin, Greek, and philosophy.
It was Thomson's talents as a scholar and linguist that caught the attention of his fellow colonists and earned him a reputation as a man of letters. Fluent in several languages, including Latin, Greek, French, and Spanish, Thomson served as a translator and interpreter for the colonial government of Pennsylvania, where he gained valuable experience in diplomacy and public service.

Thomson's entry into the world of politics came with his appointment as secretary to the Continental Congress in 1774, where he served as the chief administrative officer and recording secretary of the revolutionary government. His meticulous record-keeping and organizational skills proved invaluable to the fledgling nation, helping to maintain order and efficiency in the midst of the chaos of war.

One of Thomson's most important contributions to the American Revolution was his role in the drafting and dissemination of the Declaration of Independence. As secretary to the Continental Congress, Thomson was responsible for preparing official copies of the Declaration and distributing them to the various colonies and foreign governments. His handwritten copies of the Declaration, known as the "Thomson transcriptions," served as the official record of the historical document and helped to spread its message of liberty and independence throughout the world.

Charles Thomson's contributions to American intelligence operations during the Revolutionary War were significant, adding a layer of strategic depth to the American struggle for independence. While Thomson is often celebrated for his role as secretary to the Continental Congress, his involvement in clandestine activities through the Committee of Secret Correspondence underscores his versatility and commitment to the cause.

As a member of the Committee of Secret Correspondence, Thomson played a pivotal role in coordinating intelligence efforts aimed at gathering information and disseminating propaganda to support the American cause. Operating under the cloak of secrecy, Thomson and his colleagues leveraged their network of agents and sympathizers to gather intelligence on British military movements, diplomatic negotiations, and other key developments relevant to the war effort.

Thomson's responsibilities extended beyond mere information gathering; he was instrumental in crafting and distributing propaganda materials aimed at swaying public opinion in favor of the American cause both domestically and abroad. By disseminating carefully crafted messages highlighting British atrocities, championing American victories, and appealing to the ideals of liberty and self-determination, Thomson and his colleagues sought to rally support for the revolution among both American colonists and sympathetic foreign powers.

By providing crucial intelligence to American military commanders, diplomats, and policymakers, Thomson helped to shape strategic decisions and counter British attempts to suppress the revolution. His role in coordinating propaganda campaigns contributed to the erosion of British morale and diplomatic isolation, weakening the resolve of Britain and bolstering support for the American cause on the world stage.

Thomson's contributions to American intelligence operations during the Revolutionary War exemplify the vital role played by individuals behind the scenes in shaping the course of history. While his name may not be as widely recognized as some of the more prominent figures of the era, Thomson's dedication, resourcefulness, and strategic acumen left an indelible mark on the success of the American Revolution. His legacy serves as a testament to the power of intelligence, propaganda, and clandestine operations in the pursuit of liberty and independence.

After the war, Thomson continued to serve the new nation in various capacities, including as secretary of the Congress of the Confederation and as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. His experience and expertise in matters of governance and diplomacy made him a valuable asset to the new republic, and his commitment to the principles of liberty and self-governance earned him the respect and admiration of his fellow citizens.

Despite his many contributions to the cause of American independence, Thomson remains relatively unknown to most Americans today. His modesty and humility, combined with his behind-the-scenes role in the revolution, have led him to be overshadowed by more prominent figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. However, Thomson's importance to the founding of the United States cannot be overstated, and his legacy as a champion of liberty and democracy lives on in the principles and ideals that continue to guide the nation to this day.



James P. Hodges, Ph.D.

Winner of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Medal of Honor
Member: National Speakers Association, American Society for Training and Development


Cynthia F. Hodges, JD, LLM, MA
Attorney and Author

• “Den of Vipers: Central Banks & the Fake Economy” @

Auriga Books, LLC
Email: cyn (at)




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