Portrait of an Aide-de-Camp

Story of the Day for Wednesday July 11, 2012 


Portrait of an Aide-de-Camp



                                            Some present were indignant and grumbled among each other. “Why this waste of costly perfume? It could’ve been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her harshly.

                                                                                                                     Mark 14:4-5



No one could prove anything, but Hercules Mulligan’s loyalties looked questionable. When the American colonies declared independence from Great Britain, many colonists remained loyal to the Crown. Some Loyalists joined the British army while others operated as spies.

The highest concentration of Loyalists lived in New York, and there, on Queen Street in lower Manhatten, Mulligan worked as a tailor. His customers included a high number of wealthy British businessmen and British military officers. In addition to this, Mulligan was the son-in-law of a British naval officer. Not only that, but he billeted Redcoat soldiers in his own home during the war.

And if Mulligan was a Patriot why didn’t he publicly support the revolution?


When the Colonists won the War of Independence in 1783, about twenty percent of the Loyalists fled the country to escape reprisals. Those who remained often had their houses burned and possessions confiscated. Others were whipped or tarred and feathered.

The accusations and public outcry against Hercules Mulligan was growing. And then his fate was sealed when a distinguished gentlemen knocked on his door.

The man publicly revealed Mulligan as a spy.


One day, Jesus was in Bethany reclining at dinner when a woman took a very expensive jar of perfume and poured it on his head. Jesus’ disciples gaped in astonishment. The perfume was worth a full year’s wages! They berated the woman for her lavish squandering of wealth.

Jesus intervened, because he saw what none of his disciples understood at the time. “She poured perfume on me,” Jesus told them, “to prepare my body for burial.”

What others scorned, Jesus considered an act of sacrificial worship and faithfulness. She understood what even Jesus’ disciples failed to comprehend: that Jesus was about to sacrifice his life.

Faithfulness to the Lord is much easier when we hear applause in the background; passionate allegiance is much harder when you’re bitterly criticized for it.


The man who named Hercules a spy explained that Mr. Mulligan was a Patriot spy. Twice his reports of British plans saved the life of the commander-in-chief, George Washington. At night, he and fellow Patriots toppled the statue of King George that stood in a New York park and gave the lead to the Continental army to make bullets.

Not only that, but years earlier he housed a young Tory college student. Mulligan’s passionate arguments for independence converted the young man to the Patriot cause, and he went on to become General Washington’s trusted aide-de-camp.

Today, a portrait of that aide-de-camp is printed on every ten dollar bill. And a portrait of the man who knocked on Mulligan’s door to thank him for his service to his country can be found on a one dollar bill.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)