Profile of Benedict Arnold
Military Leader / Traitor
Date Of Birth:
14 January 1741
Date Of Death:
14 June 1801
Place Of Birth:
Best Known As:
The great traitor of the American Revolution
One of history's best-known traitors, Benedict Arnold was a successful general from Connecticut during the American Revolutionary War -- until he switched sides and was caught trying to help the British in 1780. Benedict Arnold grew up in a well-to-do family that had hit hard times by the time he became an adult. He apprenticed at an apothecary shop as a young man and fought in the French and Indian War. After a trip to Europe, Arnold settled in New Haven, Connecticut and opened his own apothecary shop, just a few years before the colonists' fight for independence began. Benedict Arnold joined the fight and was considered a hero at battles in Saratoga, New York and Quebec. But he had a hard time getting along with other commanders and continually felt slighted by the upper brass, despite personal encouragement from General George Washington. By 1780, Arnold's dissatisfaction led him to contact the British and offer his services. He and British Major John Andre conspired to help the British seize control of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River, but Andre was caught and the plan was revealed. Arnold escaped to the British side and Andre was hanged as a spy. For the remainder of the war, Benedict Arnold led British forces against American colonists. After the British lost the war, Arnold settled in London as an officer. The British didn't exactly welcome him as a hero, and the rest of his military career was forgettable. He started a not-very-successful shipping business, and died in London in 1801. However, his name lives on in the United States as a byword for treachery.
West Point, the fort Benedict Arnold conspired to seize, later became the United States Military Academy at West Point — the primary military school for officers of the U.S. Army.
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