Benedict Arnold, Treason at West Point:

A Traitor in the Eyes of All Colonists

A leader, a visionary, and a traitor, all words that describe Americas biggest traitor in history, Benedict Arnold. Arnold had committed his act of treason because of two main wars where he didn't get the recognition he thought he deserved. The battles were the Battle of Saratoga.and the Battle of Quebec. Using cunning strategies and level headed thinking he was able to defeat the British at Quebec and Saratoga alongside other generals. In recognition of his contribution to the battles, General Arnold had his seniority restored and was made the military governor of Philadelphia. His leg wound left Arnold bedridden for five months. Later, while still unfit for field service but serving as military governor of Philadelphia, Arnold entered into treasonous correspondence with the British. He received command of the fort at West Point and plotted to hand it over to the British, only to flee into the British lines when the capture of his contact John Andre led to exposure of the plot. Arnold went on to serve under William Phillips, the commander of Burgoyne's right wing, in a 1781 expedition into Virginia.
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Insight on Benedict Arnold

Born: January 14, 1741(1741-01-14), Died: June 14, 1801. When you hear about Benedict Arnold you will most likely hear about him as being Americas most largely renounced traitor against the country. In actuality he was actually a beneficial general for America and did other things in his life as well. He was a business man before the revolution and served as a general and a general troop in battles such as The Battle of Quebec, The Battle of Saratoga, and The Battle of Blandford. He had numerous reasons in his own mind for the committed treason, but the main reasons for his betrayal was that he thought he was correctly rewarded for his victory's at Saratoga and Quebec. Those battles were pretty much the tipping points for General Arnold.

Selling West Point, and the Secret Messaging

Benedict Arnold sold West Point out to officer John Andre of the British Army. Now Benedict's reasons for turning over West Point in the first place were because he felt that he wasn't properly rewarded for his great work in the Continental Army even though he was still rewarded with the title military governor of Philadelphia. It all started sometime early in May 1779, Arnold met with Stansbury. Stansbury, whose testimony before a British commission apparently erroneously placed the date in June, said that, after meeting with Arnold, "I went secretly to New York with a tender of Arnold's services to Sir Henry Clinton." Ignoring instructions from Arnold to involve no one else in the plot, Stansbury crossed the British lines and went to see Jonathan Odell in New York. Odell was a Loyalist working with William Franklin, the last Colonial Governor of New Jersey and the son of Benjamin Franklin. On May 9, Franklin introduced Stansbury to Major André, who had just been named the British spy chief. This was the beginning of a secret correspondence between Arnold and André, sometimes using his wife Peggy as a willing intermediary, that culminated over a year later with Arnold's change of sides.One of Arnold's coded letters.
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Cipher lines by Arnold are interspersed with lines by his wife Peggy.André conferred with General Clinton, who gave him broad authority to pursue Arnold's offer. André then drafted instructions to Stansbury and Arnold . This initial letter
opened a discussion on the types of assistance and intelligence Arnold might provide, and included instructions for how to communicate in the future. Letters would be passed through the woman's circle that Peggy Arnold was a part of, but only Peggy would be aware that some letters contained instructions written in both code and invisible ink that were to be passed on to André, using Stansbury as the courier.

André and Arnold, the betrayal in progress and the aftermath

By July 1779, Arnold was providing the British with troop locations and strengths, as well as the locations of supply depots, all the while negotiating over compensation.On August 3, 1780, Arnold obtained command of West Point. Washington, in assigning Arnold to the command at West Point, also gave him authority over the entire American-controlled Hudson River, from Albany down to the British lines outside New York City.Once he established himself at West Point, Arnold began systematically weakening its defenses and military strength. Needed repairs on the chain across the Hudson were never ordered. At the same time, he tried to drain West Point's supplies, so that a siege would be more likely to succeed. His subordinates, some of whom were long-time associates, grumbled about unnecessary distribution of supplies, and eventually concluded that Arnold was selling some of the supplies on the black market for personal gain. Arnold and André finally met on September 21 at Joshua Hett Smith's house. On Saturday, September 23, André was captured, near Tarrytown, by three Westchester patriots. André convinced the unsuspecting commanding officer to whom he was delivered, Colonel John Jameson, to send him back to Arnold at West Point. However, Major Benjamin Tallmadge, a member of Washington's secret service, insisted Jameson order the prisoner intercepted and brought back. Jameson reluctantly recalled the lieutenant delivering André into Arnold's custody, but then sent the same lieutenant as a messenger to notify Arnold of André's arrest. When presented with evidence of Arnold's betrayal, it is reported that Washington was calm. He did, however, investigate the extent of the betrayal, and suggested in negotiations with General Clinton over the fate of Major André that he was willing to exchange André for Arnold. This suggestion Clinton refused; after a military tribunal, André was hanged at Tappan, New York on October 2. Washington also infiltrated men into New York in an attempt to kidnap Arnold; this plan, which very nearly succeeded, failed when Arnold changed living quarters prior to sailing for Virginia in December. Arnold attempted to justify his actions in an open letter titled To the Inhabitants of America, published in newspapers in October 1780 . In the letter to Washington requesting safe passage for Peggy, he wrote that "Love to my country actuates my present conduct, however it may appear inconsistent to the world, who very seldom judge right of any man's actions."

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This political cartoon was posted in a newspaper in 1865. This political cartoon, captioned "A Proper Family Re-Union" at the bottom. It depicts Satan welcoming Benedict Arnold and Jefferson Davis to Hell. The three figures stand around a cauldron labeled "Treason Toddy". Satan is shown in the center, dropping a small human figure into the cauldron, saying "I feel proud of my American sons — Benedict and Jeff". Arnold is on the left, wearing his military uniform and stirring the cauldron, saying "Welcome, Davis! Thou shalt be warmly received by thy father". Davis is on the right, dressed in woman's clothing and riding boots (based on a story that near the end of the war he fled disguised as a woman). He is also stirring the cauldron, and says "Well, Arnold, the C.S.A. are done gone, so I have come home". (hahahha so funny, this cartoon gets me every time, lol.)


Do you think that Benedict Arnold reasons for treason were just?
Do you think it was fair that Arnold was able to live a happy and successful life in Britain after the revolution?
How would you have reacted to Arnold's treason if you were in Washington's place?