Cover image for The first conspiracy : the secret plot to kill George Washington
The first conspiracy : the secret plot to kill George Washington
Young reader's ed.

1st ed.
Physical Description:
358 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Maps on endpapers.
The commander -- Spies in Boston -- A bloody summer -- A most infernal plot -- Sacricide -- Aftermath.
In 1776, an elite group of soldiers was handpicked to serve as George Washington's bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York William Tryon and Mayor David Mathews, launched a deadly plot against the most important member of the military: George Washington himself. This is the story of the secret plot and how it was revealed. Adapted for young readers.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 973.41092 MEL 0 1
Book 973.41092 MEL 0 1
Book 973.41092 MEL 0 1
Book 973.41092 MEL 0 1
Book TEEN 973.41092 MEL 0 1

On Order



#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.

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.

Author Notes

Brad Meltzer was born on April 1, 1970 and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School. His first published title was called The Tenth Justice. His other works include Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, The Book of Fate, The Zero Game, The Inner Circle and The Fifth Assassin. He is the Eisner Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed comic book, Justice League of America. He also wrote the non-fiction books, Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter. He has written speeches for former President Clinton's National Service Program and played himself as an extra in Woody Allen's film, Celebrity. In 2013, his title History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time.

In 2014 his titles, I Am Abraham Lincoln, I Am Amelia Earhart and I am Rosa Parks made The New York Times Best Seller List.

In 2016, Meltzer's title's The House of Secrets, I Am George Washington, and I Am Jane Goodall made the New York Times Bestseller list.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5--8--During the year between Washington's appointment as commander of the Continental Army and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the young general matured rapidly from a stately landowner and former soldier to the revered leader of a ragtag and still unproven military force. Meltzer and Mensch, in this young reader's edition of their best-selling book, trace a shadowy plot that may have originated with New York's royal governor, William Tryon. The narrative shifts between various cities and jumps forward and backward in time. Context is provided and gaps in understanding are filled, though the overall arc of the story is maintained. The sometimes disorienting structure contributes to the portrayal of constantly shifting allegiances and intrigue: "Intelligence. Cunning. Secrecy. These are the tools of war." The text has few illustrations and no sidebars or graphic elements to break up long blocks of text, making it more suitable for stronger readers. The images included, however, support the narrative and typically include substantial captions. Chapters are mostly short, and the language is simple and clear. A lengthy bibliography, including references to many primary sources, as well as 30 pages of detailed source notes, organized by chapter and page number, conclude the volume. VERDICT This title, amply researched, well documented, and as engagingly written as a spy thriller, is highly recommended for middle grade libraries.--Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

Kirkus Review

Meltzer and Mensch's melodramatic 2018 account of a plot that would have definitely changed the outcome of the Revolutionary War, reissued in modestly tightened form for younger audiences.In dozens of short chapters featuring barrages of orotund, present-tense prose, the authors spin a scanty web of evidence into a whirl of conspiracy. First, though, come paeans to George Washington's sterling character and irreplaceability along with an extended overview of the war's run-up from the occupation and abandonment of Boston to the British fleet's arrival in New York harbor. It's in the stews of New York ("Drinking. Disease. Filth. Secret plots"but the syphilis and prostitutes to be found there in the adult edition seem to be absent) that ousted Loyalist governor William Tryon hatches a scheme to commit widespread sabotage and, as a hyperventilating contemporary dubs it, "SACRICIDE," and also there that the conspirators give themselves away just prior to the disastrous Battle of Long Island. Though most escape punishment, one prisoner is hanged on the very day that the Continental Congress sees the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Further chapters on Washington's own spycraft, on his changing attitude toward allowing free blacks to enlist, and other conspiracies real or drummed up serve to enrich the page count as well as, sometimes, the content. Massive sections of endnotes and scholarly sources are carried over from the original.Not much to choose between the two editions, for readers adult or otherwise. (index) (Nonfiction. 12-15) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Utter presidential and conspiracy theory and typically modern plots come to mind. But when Meltzer found a reference to a supposed plot to kill George Washington in a footnote, no less he knew he had to investigate and teamed up with fellow historian Mensch. In this young reader's edition of the New York Times best-seller, the duo craft a detective story, steadily revealing who would want to assassinate George Washington, why they would gain from his demise, and most important, how they would try to pull it off. Short chapters with quick pacing, illustrations, and probing endings help set a suspenseful tone. And framing the story is background information on George Washington's character, as well as key events and players in the early days of the Revolutionary War. Perhaps more interesting than the assassination plot itself are the descriptions of the country's first counterintelligence committee and the creation of Washington's spy network. Despite the shorter text, this version is still packed with sophisticated details, making it suitable for both YA and adult history collections.--Angela Leeper Copyright 2019 Booklist

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. vi
Notes on the Textp. viii
Prologue-New York, New York, April 1776p. 1
Part I The Commanderp. 5
Part II Spies in Bostonp. 36
Part III A Bloody Summerp. 100
Part IV A Most Infernal Plotp. 175
Part V Sacricidep. 245
Part VI Aftermathp. 288
Acknowledgmentsp. 314
Cast of Charactersp. 318
Notesp. 320
Selected Bibliographyp. 341
Indexp. 347