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Old March 3rd, 2012, 06:28 AM   #41

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Originally Posted by wilber6150 View Post
You think he changed sides because he had a sudden case of loyalty to the knig?
No, not fully. If you've read my past postings I said he was frustrated at his treatment
by his superiors, he was influenced by his young wife, his ego blocked his better
judgment and he handled it all badly. But to answer the initial question: no, I don't hate
Arnold.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 06:46 AM   #42

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We have to remember that to a large extent the American War of Independence was a civil war between American Loyalists and American Patriots. The United States wasn't exactly a country, and to most people's eyes, the Patriots were rebels. There wasn't a country to betray yet....

When the War ended, a lot of Loyalists relocated to Canada, or like Arnold, to Britain. In Britain, he wasn't considered the traitor he later became in American folklore.

And it depends who would consider him a traitor....

Arnold repeated Dunmore's offer of freedom to black American slaves if they fought on the side of the Loyalists, so I doubt that black Americans at the time would've considered him a traitor. Especially when Patriots like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were trying to keep black people in slavery.

With that in mind, just as it's hard to impose modern concepts of morality on Washington and Jefferson, I consider it hard to impose modern concepts of morality on Arnold....

In my eyes, Arnold is no better and no worse a person than Jefferson and Washington.
There are a few things I find wrong in your logic.
1. To say that the United States wasn't a country is at best a technicality; they were a beligerent state at least, and by this time recognized by France. Your assertion ignores pragmatic reality.
2. He was indeed a traitor to the rebels and their cause.
3. Many of the British did not trust him and considered him a traitor. I quoted this before, but when he applied for a position with the East India Company, George Johnstone wrote, "Although I am satisfied with the purity of your conduct, the generality do not think so. While this is the case, no power in this country could suddenly place you in the situation you aim at under the East India Company."

That some people don't consider him a traitor is irrelevant. He deceitfully and ignominiously betrayed the cause he had sworn to uphold.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 06:54 AM   #43

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It might be irrelevant to you, but not to everyone....

That quote you supplied is neither here nor there. He lived in obscurity in England where he died, in a situation where most people knew next to nothing about him, much less to consider him a traitor or not.

The OP is about "hate" for Arnold. I certainly have no "hate" for him, and put him on a similar pedestal as Washington and Jefferson. At least Arnold did something for black slaves, even if it was fueled by the opportunism provided to him by Dunmore.

History is written by the victors. The fact is that the Patriots won the American War of Independence, and Arnold was fashioned into a convenient villain for the history books....
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 07:09 AM   #44

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As I see it, it was Arnold's "defection" from the British to the Americans at the start of the war that equates to the Confederate soldiers, and Washington did the same. They realized they were betraying their allegiance to the Crown, their legal government. But like the Confederate soldiers, they were faced with the unenviable situation of having to choose between two groups of people, both of whom they had been loyal to all their lives, but who were now at war with each other. No matter which said they chose, the people on the other side would call them traitors. And technically, they can be called traitors for choosing to go with the rebels against their legal government. However, I think many people feel as I do that if they made their decision at the beginning, one side or the other, and stuck loyally by that decision through thick or thin, they were not traitors.

What makes Arnold a traitor, in my own personal opinion, is that he didn't stick loyally by his original decision and his chosen people.
So the difference between treason and not treason is a matter of timing? I actually believe that it was a more wise and expedient path to not prosecute or to forgive confederates, but it's a slippery distinction. I'm not speaking so much of the individual recruits (I have more sympathy for them), but of the career army officers, who, after all, did swear an oath to the US, had been in the army and then decided to go over to the enemy. Imagine the bile in the US today if Gen. David Patraeus announced that he'd converted to Islam and was joining the Taliban. The lengthy army career of guys like Lee make him quite comparable to Arnold.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 07:18 AM   #45

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Originally Posted by skizzerflake View Post
So the difference between treason and not treason is a matter of timing? I actually believe that it was a more wise and expedient path to not prosecute or to forgive confederates, but it's a slippery distinction. I'm not speaking so much of the individual recruits, but of the career army officers, who, after all, did swear an oath to the US, had been in the army and then decided to go over to the enemy. Imagine the bile in the US today if Gen. David Patraeus announced that he'd converted to Islam and was joining the Taliban.
You can't compare Petraeus to Arnold. Arnold was from British stock and had a Tory wife. He fought bravely in Canada and lost the normal use of his leg in Saratoga. He was scorned by Gates in that battle, screwed out of compensation of higher rank, and was accosted by the Pennsylvanians. The only problem was that Arnold had a unique personality that would not allow him to accept being stepped on for long. His actions based on his personality are understandable, but are not defensible.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 07:22 AM   #46

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I know the OP is referring to modern-day Americans, but the views of modern-day Americans are formed by the books they read and the TV shows they watch....

It's probably fairer to look at the question thru the eyes of Americans of the day.

1) American Patriots hated Arnold and believed he was a traitor.

2) American Loyalists did not hate Arnold and considered him a colleague.

3) Black American slaves certainly did not hate Arnold, and probably thought of him in a better light than they thought of Washington and Jefferson.

It all depends on what kind of American you were at the time....
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 07:24 AM   #47

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3) Black American slaves certainly did not hate Arnold, and probably thought of him in a better light than they thought of Washington and Jefferson.

It all depends on what kind of American you were at the time....
I have to jump all over that one... I sincerely doubt that black slaves thought better of Arnold than Washington! That statement must be substantiated!



Jefferson, on the other hand, you're probably right... if only Hamilton had won the day!
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 07:27 AM   #48

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I have to jump all over that one... I sincerely doubt that black slaves thought better of Arnold than Washington! That statement must be substantiated!



Jefferson, on the other hand, you're probably right... if only Hamilton had won the day!
Do you really think the thousands of black slaves who made their way to British lines to fight for their freedom, thanks to the offer made by Dunmore and repeated by Arnold, would've considered Arnold in a bad light?

I doubt they would've been concerned about whether the offer was opportunistic or not. They would've been just happy to get their freedom at that point it time!

Don't forget, one of the slaves who escaped was Henry Washington, who fled George's plantation, and ended up fighting for the British....

I'm sure he thought better of Benedict Arnold than George Washington.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 07:29 AM   #49

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Originally Posted by shivfan View Post
Do you really think the thousands of black slaves who made their way to British lines to fight for their freedom, thanks to the offer made by Dunmore and repeated by Arnold, would've considered Arnold in a bad light?

I doubt they would've been concerned about whether the offer was opportunistic or not. They would've been just happy to get their freedom at that point it time!
I'm just asking for the sources to back up that statement... just so I can see for myself. That would be a darn good essay!!
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 07:44 AM   #50
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Switching sides may be one thing, but using your position as an officer to betray those in your command to the other side is traitorous.

I would not equate Arnold with Washington or Jefferson. Both of these proved themselves loyal to the cause during and after the war. Arnold showed himself to be just a professional soldier who made his own career the central basis for his decisions.
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