Benedict Arnold: The Greatest Hero of the American Revolution

Baltis

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,006
Texas
As far as I can remember, Philbrick doesn't spell that out but it does seem likely that Arnold's wife and other loyalists he was close with would have made just that case to him.
I have a personal feeling that his underlying motivation is money and greed, the young hot babe goes with that same territory, he also sought reputation and standing. In short, I am with the group that thinks his ambition and faults motivated the treason. I haven't read the Brumwell (yes, I misspelled the man's name in my earlier post) book yet so I am not sure how much to give on the question of changing his ideology. But I have never seen that in the evidence before so I am a bit skeptical. I believe men can often bend their ideology to convenience when it comes to justifying their true motives.

On the question of his money and greed motives, I believe the evidence is legion. :):)
 
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History Chick

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,336
Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
To say he was treated "unfairly" is an understatement. Basically stabbed in the back after being wounded for his country. It certainly does justify his actions, particularly since they weren't fighting an opponent like the Confederacy, the Nazis, the Taliban or Slobodan Milosevic. Or even Saddam Hussein.

I never alleged Arnold was a true believer, or switched sides for political reasons. I would have sided with the Loyalists, and viewed Arnold's actions from that perspective, were I a contemporary of him.
"Further, in the opinion of this writer (who would have sided with the Loyalists in 1775) Arnold was simply joining the morally-correct side of the American Revolution."

This argument is moot if that's not the reason Arnold changed sides, thus why mention it if you we're trying to defend Arnold's decision with this?
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,530
I have a personal feeling that his underlying motivation is money and greed, the young hot babe goes with that same territory, he also sought reputation and standing. In short, I am with the group that thinks his ambition and faults motivated the treason. I haven't read the Brumwell (yes, I misspelled the man's name in my earlier post) book yet so I am not sure how much to give on the question of changing his ideology. But I have never seen that in the evidence before so I am a bit skeptical. I believe men can often bend their ideology to convenience when it comes to justifying their true motives.

On the question of his money and greed motives, I believe the evidence is legion. :):)
Arnold's main motivation was probably anger over his court martial for corruption. Plus the negative reaction to his loyalist wife. Then he was able to negotiate the payment of a huge amount of money and the prestige of a major general's commission in the British Army.

There are issues that he was involved in corruption and antagonized patriots in Philadelphia enough that charges were brought. Plus he offended people with his association with loyalists and the marriage.

It seems like he got himself in to trouble and went further to get out of it. He was talented, but also abitious, reckless, greedy, and opportunistic.
 

Baltis

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,006
Texas
Arnold's main motivation was probably anger over his court martial for corruption. Plus the negative reaction to his loyalist wife. Then he was able to negotiate the payment of a huge amount of money and the prestige of a major general's commission in the British Army.

What are your thoughts about this court-martial for corruption? My feeling is that Arnold was guilty of corruption on a number of items. Of course there is the admitted use of the wagons but I think it actually goes much deeper than that. I have long had an inkling (unproven but likely) the many of the claims Arnold had filed and demanded payment on was actually for plunder that he wanted but could not hold. It was needed for the army of the north or other reasons. And there were other business opportunities around Philadelphia that he was trying to corner for himself.

Anyway, Arnold had a number of detractors. These are not all petty stock characters acting out of spite, such as in a play. They are real men of history who were patriots, on the scene, and likely knew exactly what was going on. Hazen, Brown, and Reed deserve more than a dismissal with wave of hand. Reed gets especially tainted by historians because of his perceived lack of loyalty to Washington. But these are actually mere ad hominem arguments and I rarely (if ever) have seen an honest depiction and contrast of Arnold and his detractors.


The one item Arnold's detractors all seem to have in common but is lost on historians is the simple fact they turned out to be correct in their assessments of Arnold's character. Not petty at all but good judges of character, something Washington seems to have missed out on in that instance.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,530
The way it is sometimes presented isn't accurate. It wasn't just that Arnold was a victim of jealousies etc.

The corruption charges were true. It may be everyone does it, but they wouldn't have gone ahead with the court martial if the charges were trumped up. They also give an indication of his greed.

Arnold did seem to make a lot of enemies, and he wasn't well liked in England and Canada after the war. It seems like his detractors were aware of his character, but also had other things against him.

Washington obviously was looking at Arnold's spectacular military record. Washington and Arnold also had some things in common. Both were greedy and opportunistic. They were both opportunistic in their marriages. While Arnold married a 17 year old loyalist, Washington married the slightly older maybe wealthiest woman in the colonies.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,530
Arnold and Washington had similar experiences. Washington wasn't sent to school in England like his brothers because his father died and his older brother and mother wouldn't pay for it. Arnold was going to private school and was going to go to Yale, but couldn't because of lack of money, because his alcoholic father ruined the family business. Arnold built it to more than had been.

Similarly, Washington improved his wealth and social standing through marriage, and developed a career as a surveyor and land speculator, as well as a military career as commander of the Virginia Militia in his early 30s.

So I think they identified with each other and Washington shared some of Arnold's opportunistic characteristics, which in both cases were probably based on overcoming adversity.

There may be some truth to some historians' implications that Arnold's enemies were jealous. There may also be some truth to Baltis' implications that they realized Arnold's character and that he was dangerous. It probably was more that he was out for himself and his attitudes and behavior made enemies and made some people angry at him.
 
Dec 2011
1,013
Hertfordshire
I would also add that Arnold supported Lord Dunmore in granting freedom to any Southern black slaves who fought on the side of the British.

Yes, it was a cynical move, which ignored the fact that the British still kept blacks in slavery in the Caribbean. However, it's estimated that thousands of blacks, mainly men, secured their freedom as a result of the Dunmore declaration, and when the war ended, forged new lives as freemen in Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone, England, and the Caribbean. Many of these men experienced racial prejudice in London, and a lot of them eventually formed that first dangerous voyage that established the colony of Sierra Leone. But for a lot of them, racial prejudice was much better than American slavery. Moses Baker and George Lisle were former slaves who secured their freedom by fighting for the British, and they became Baptist preachers in Jamaica, starting a movement which has ensured that the Baptist faith is one of the most popular strands of Christianity in the island today.

Arnold supported Dunmore's declaration, so in his small way, he made a good contribution to the freedom of thousands of black men and their families. Whether he meant it or not is another matter....
 

Baltis

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,006
Texas
I would also add that Arnold supported Lord Dunmore in granting freedom to any Southern black slaves who fought on the side of the British.

Yes, it was a cynical move, which ignored the fact that the British still kept blacks in slavery in the Caribbean. However, it's estimated that thousands of blacks, mainly men, secured their freedom as a result of the Dunmore declaration, and when the war ended, forged new lives as freemen in Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone, England, and the Caribbean. Many of these men experienced racial prejudice in London, and a lot of them eventually formed that first dangerous voyage that established the colony of Sierra Leone. But for a lot of them, racial prejudice was much better than American slavery. Moses Baker and George Lisle were former slaves who secured their freedom by fighting for the British, and they became Baptist preachers in Jamaica, starting a movement which has ensured that the Baptist faith is one of the most popular strands of Christianity in the island today.

Arnold supported Dunmore's declaration, so in his small way, he made a good contribution to the freedom of thousands of black men and their families. Whether he meant it or not is another matter....
I'm having a little bit of trouble with this. Dunmore's declaration and the regiment it created is an event from 1775 that resulted in the Ethiopian Regiment. They saw some limited action but mostly died of disease before a few made it up to New York. Believed that Colonel Tyne (is that the name?) came from this group. Arnold was securely Patriot during that time period.

Later on, during his command of the Virginia raids, Arnold took a good many slaves as plunder from the plantations he raided. He then sold many of the slaves back to their owners (tried to do more). The remainder were used for digging works, etc. As Cornwallis came into Virginia a large number of slaves left their owners (along with those captured in the raid but not sold back) and joined the British as camp followers. During the Yorktown siege, Cornwallis turned them out to preserve supplies and because many had become sick.

During the exodus from the colonies after the war, several thousand ex-slaves were allowed to leave with the British, from New York, Savannah, and Charleston. Truthfully, most of the evacuees from the southern ports went to the Caribbean where they remained enslaved. Those from New York mostly went to Nova Scotia, but I do not remember there actually being any relationship to Dunmore's Virginia Proclamation and those who were allowed to leave from New York seven or eight years later.

Today we like to talk about Dunmore's Proclamation as if it were something that was in effect during the American Revolution. This is not so. when the British came to the south there was no recruiting of black regiments or talk of Dunmore's Proclamation. That was just something that came and went with Dunmore's governorship of Virginia early in the war.





Why did you attribute Arnold to favoring Dunmore's Proclamation? Is there some sourcing for this relationship?