Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Benedict Arnold Commits Treason 241 Years Ago Today

Dies on Flag Day and U.S. Army Birthday 21 Years Later 

September 21, 1780:

During the war, Benedict Arnold proved himself a brave and skillful leader, helping Ethan Allen’s troops capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and then participating in the unsuccessful attack on British Quebec later that year, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general. Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold had enemies within the military and in 1777, five men of lesser rank were promoted over him. Over the course of the next few years, Arnold married for a second time and he and his new wife lived a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, accumulating substantial debt. The debt and the resentment Arnold felt over not being promoted faster were motivating factors in his choice to become a turncoat.

In 1780, Arnold was given command of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River in New York (and future home of the U.S. military academy, established in 1802). Arnold contacted Sir Henry Clinton, head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and his men. On September 21 of that year, Arnold met with Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact. However, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and executed. Arnold, the former American patriot, fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British. He died in London on June 14, 1801.

June 14, in an unlikely coincidence, was by 1801 already an anniversary of two important days in U.S. history:  the original U.S. flag was adopted in 1777 and the first Continental Army was formed in 1775.

The stars formed in a circle on the first U.S. flag are intended to represent a new constellation, as declared in the Flag Resolution (see link above).

The "Betsy Ross" flag

By DevinCook / Created by jacobolus using Adobe Illustrator, and released into the public domain. - I created this image using historical descriptions (commonly known). Inkscape was used to create the SVG., Public Domain, Link