Benedict Arnold (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).
As many shady characters throughout history have demonstrated, being remembered long after your death isn’t always a good thing. While enough time may have passed for us to warm up to infamous characters such as pirates and certain wild west bandits, it hasn’t done any favors for traitors. Here we’ll delve into the motives that helped make Benedict Arnold’s name synonymous with treason, sell out, betrayal, and greed.
Et tu, Benedict?
Even if you’re not sure why, the chances are that you already know Benedict Arnold sucked. Our brief summary of how he earned his villain status begins during the Revolutionary War.
At first, he was an American war hero and counted men such as George Washington among his trusted bros. Then one day, Benedict suddenly decided to jump ship and offered the British seizure of a West Point, NY military fortress for 10,000 pounds and a cushy commission with the British military.
Traitors gonna betray
So what was the deal with Benedict Arnold going rogue on America? Historians aren’t completely sure but point to several things that probably didn’t help. The first was a guy named Joseph Reed, who was the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council President at that time. Around 1779, Reed went on a rumor spreading campaign against Benedict that would have rivaled a modern-day Rosanne Barr Twitter feud. He claimed that Arnold was guilty of all kinds of treasonous acts and preferred the company of the British loyalists, all without offering any proof.
Apparently, Arnold also had self-confidence issues and his new wife Peggy wasn’t helping the situation. Peggy was from a British loyalist leaning Philadelphia family and was accustomed to a plush lifestyle. Some believe that Benedict caved to the pressure due to the temptation to keep supplying her with a continual flow of bling.
Making history: You’re doing it wrong
Unfortunately for Benedict, treason doesn’t sit well with Americans to this day. Surprisingly, it didn’t even sit all that well with the British.
Though Arnold almost captured Thomas Jefferson for the British and attacked both Virginia and Connecticut, the British never quite trusted him. In the end, once a traitor, always a traitor.