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Major General Benedict Arnold (pictured) had
served his country well, even taking a wound to his leg, but he felt the
young America had not returned the kindness. Arnold had been repeatedly
passed over for promotion and robbed of commands that were given to men of
much lesser quality.
In 1778, he had been accused of profiteering in Philadelphia, but the
later court martial proved him innocent of all but a few minor charges.
Despite his innocence, his name was blackened, and he wrote Washington,
"Having become a cripple in the service of my country, I little expected
to meet ungrateful returns". The final straw came after his Quebec
campaign, a military disaster, in which his retreat had run up severe
costs. The Continental Congress was to reimburse him, but due to lack of
proper documentation, Arnold was told he owed over £1,000.
Arnold was newly married to Peggy, the daughter of Philadelphia Loyalist
Judge Edward Shippen. His Loyalist ideals were piqued, and, over the
course of the next year, Arnold would begin a plan to change sides in the
war. Communications exchanged between himself and various British
officials until he made his demands of £20,000, coverage for his losses,
and the rank of a brigadier general. In exchange, he gave troop positions,
army strengths, and supply information to Clinton in his Hudson Valley
campaign. In a final offer, Arnold promised to turn over the Continental
fort at West Point, New York.
On September 21, Arnold met with British spy Major John André, but the
forces under American Colonel John Jameson had attacked the HMS Vulture,
chasing away André's escape. The major would have to return overland
through enemy lines, and Arnold supplied him with the appropriate papers
for safe passage. André did not go far before he was caught by Patriots,
who took him to Jameson after finding suspicious notes in his socks. These
papers were sent to Washington, and André asked Jameson to send him back
to Arnold. Major Benjamin Tallmadge, a member of Washington's intelligence
service, convinced the colonel to hold onto the spy, and, though Jameson
was highly suspicious of the divergence from the chain of command, not to
mention the capture to the suspect Arnold.
"Interesting, but it'd have been more interesting
if he'd been playing the British---Washington was no slouch at secret
service ops, and if he'd gotten Arnold to play at being disaffected
(possibly secretly promoting and reimbursing him, so that his grievances
no longer applied, while the world outside thought they did) he could have
done the British all sorts of real damage. There's stories that Ben
Franklin did something like that---pretended to be working for the British
with Washington knowing all about it and telling him just what to feed
them to keep them in the dark. " - reader's comments
morning, Benedict Arnold, blissfully ignorant of André's capture, met with
Washington for breakfast. The commander-in-chief had read the indicting
papers, but he remained calm. Fellow military leaders said that the
breakfast was pleasant and full of conversation about plans for winter. As
he stood, Washington said to the soldiers, "Men, do the Major General the
honor of arrest on suspicion of treason". Arnold reportedly tried to fight
his way from the room, but the Patriots, including Washington, subdued
him. Just before he was dragged away, Arnold made a last request to
Washington to allow his wife Peggy safe passage back to her family in
Philadelphia. Washington would fulfill the request.
The investigation would take up the next week. Being found completely
guilty, Benedict Arnold would be hanged alongside André on October 2. Just
after his death, a letter from Arnold entitled "To the Inhabitants of
America" would be published in Loyalist newspapers throughout the former
colonies. In it, Arnold redressed his grievances: the independence of the
Articles of Confederation despite offers to meet pre-war demands and
return to the British Empire, a rejection of treaty with the French (whom
he described as "the enemy of the Protestant faith"), and the lack of
rebels to follow simple "common sense", as had been recommended by Thomas
With a popular martyr, the Loyalist movement in the Colonies would begin
anew. Washington would spend years settling uprisings and defeating
British troops as they moved. The Crown, meanwhile, began a scheme of
amphibious attacks that were intended to wear down the rebels but only
dragged on an expensive war, inciting riots of war-weary cities.
Internationally, the Dutch, Spanish, and French preyed heavily on the
British shipping and conquered other colonies. Finally, in 1785 after the
bloody defeat of British General Cornwallis at the Battle of Williamsburg,
the Revolutionary War would end. International fighting would continue
until the humiliating Treaty of Paris of 1788 was signed.
In the wake of the successful, though hard-fought, revolution in America,
emulated revolutions would break out in France and over the Continent.
What papers called "democratic chaos" caused uproars and wars against the
French Republic until finally the kings of Europe agreed that they had
gone too far in giving the Americans republican rule. The American
Invasion would begin in 1815 and force upon them as king Prince Edward,
George III's fourth son. In the coming years, his daughter Victoria would
become queen of both America and England, finally reuniting the wayward
colonies, though with separate parliaments.