In a few days, America will celebrate it’s 243rd birthday. This is the third time that our Teammate Tuesday blog has fallen during the week of Independence Day.
The first time, I wrote about the need for good teammates to become independent of the vices that hold them back. The second time, I wrote about General George Washington crossing the Delaware River and the need for good teammates to cross the river by mustering the courage to confront toxicity on their team.
Both of those are inspiring reads and I recommend you check them out if you haven’t yet done so.
This Independence Day, I want to shine the spotlight on a key player in the American Revolution—Hercules Mulligan. Known as “Washington’s Tailor,” Hercules Mulligan operated a clothing emporium that catered to New York’s upper echelon.
His position gained him acceptance among wealthy British businessmen and high-ranking soldiers. Mulligan would take their measurements and pass on secrets he overhead to the colonials. On at least two different occasions, he’s credited with directly saving George Washington’s life by predicting ambushes based on the dates British officers needed their mended uniforms returned.
Some call Hercules Mulligan a spy. Some label him a patriot. Others consider him a traitor. (A fair number of Brits follow this blog, so I want to make sure I am being sensitive to their perspective!)
I’d like to think that 243 years is enough time for everyone to discuss the American Revolution with objectivity. But just in case, I’m going to focus on two of Hercules Mulligan’s traits that are shared by all good teammates and transcend the controversy of the aforementioned labels.
Number one: Hercules Mulligan was committed. He was “all in.” Although he was born of European lineage, married to the daughter of a Royal Navy admiral, and lived among the British, his actions were dictated by his commitment to a cause in which he believed.
Was his belief in this this cause right or wrong? Doesn’t matter. The point is he was committed to something he believed in. His actions weren’t swayed by what he was supposed to be, nor by how others expected him to think. They were motivated by what he believed to be right and just. He was loyal to an ideal, not an entity.
Good teammates are committed to the standards of their team. Their loyalty to their team stems from their belief in what their team is attempting to accomplish—it’s mission.
Number two: Hercules Mulligan was resilient. The British suspected him of collaborating with his Sons of Liberty cohorts on several occasions, for which he was occasionally beaten and imprisoned. But that didn’t stop him. He remained committed.
In the Broadway musical Hamilton, Hercules Mulligan’s character delivers a memorable line about his resiliency: “When you knock me down, I get the @#$% back up again!”
Although maybe a little on the crude side, that line sums up how good teammates handle adversity. They are not deterred by setbacks. When they get knocked down, they bounce back. They keep moving forward.
After the American Revolution ended, British loyalists were retaliated against. They were tarred and feathered and had their businesses burned to the ground. Hercules Mulligan feared retaliation for his perceived association with British officers—a credit to his ability to conceal his true loyalties.
A good teammate move by George Washington, however, quashed the possibility of retaliation against Mulligan. After an “Evacuation Day” celebration in New York, Washington visited Mulligan and shopped in his store. He continued to patronize Mulligan’s store throughout his presidency, insisting that a sign be hung in front of the store identifying it as “Clothier to General Washington.”
Happy birthday, America. And thank you to Hercules Mulligan and all of the other good teammates who sacrificed for their beliefs.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.