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The Treason of Benedict Arnold by Brian E. Tubbs

Author says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Brian Tubbs' excellent blog American Revolution and Foundation Era. Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

On September 21st 1780,

Please click the icon to follow us on Facebook.American General Benedict Arnold met with British Major John Andre to plot the transfer of West Point, a key strategic post in New York, to British control. The meeting was a culmination of months of secret negotiations between General Arnold and the British, and it marked perhaps the most famous act of treason ever committed by an American military officer.

Why Did Benedict Arnold Betray the American Cause?

Benedict Arnold was one of George Washington's favorite commanders. Brave, tenacious, and highly gifted as a military leader, Arnold had distinguished himself repeatedly in battle.

Yet the brilliant Arnold was also egotistical and self-interested. And had a tendency to rub many people the wrong way.

Passed over for promotion, denied credit for certain accomplishments, and faced with major financial challenges, an increasingly bitter Arnold hardened his heart against the American cause and offered his services -- for a price -- to the British.

Why did Benedict Arnold, one of America's most talented and courageous generals, conspire to betray the American cause?

***See "The Enigma of Benedict Arnold," courtesy of Early America Review

What if Arnold's Treason Had Succeeded?

At the time of Arnold's meeting with Andre, the American general commanded the fortress at West Point, a key strategic point that prevented the Royal Navy from accessing the Hudson River. This effectively limited the British presence in New York to the coastline, especially New York City.

Had British General Clinton captured West Point, the British would've gained control of the Hudson and quickly divided the American colonies, just as they had hoped to accomplish during their previous ill-fated campaign that ended ingloriously at Saratoga.

Arnold's plan almost worked. He had already weakened West Point's defenses and Clinton was preparing a major assault. Had it not been for Andre's capture, the stalemate in the Revolutionary War's theater would've been broken -- to the distinct advantage of the British.

At the very least, this would've meant that the Revolutionary War would've dragged on for many more years. At worst (at least from the American perspective), it would've meant defeat for the American cause.

Fortunately for the Americans, Andre was captured and the plot discovered. Benedict Arnold escaped arrest (and a sure hanging) and would finish the war in British uniform! But the consequences of his treachery were nowhere near what they could have been.

Author says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the American Revolution and Foundation Era web site.

Brian E. Tubbs, Guest Historian of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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