Monday, October 1, 2012

Featured Manuscript: Benedict Arnold Letter

For his recent gallery talk on Benedict Arnold, volunteer Stephen Wilder delved into the Lloyd W. Smith Archives. He found three letters of interest, but was particularly intrigued by a letter written by Arnold from West Point.

Wilder said he decided to cover the subject because Arnold is a name most Americans recognize from the American Revolution, he was closely connected with events in Morristown during the winter encampment of 1779-80s, and because of his heroism and the high esteem in which George Washington held him make for a good story--a contradiction in personality. Most people don't know he was court-martialed in Morristown for financial and business improprieties while acting as military governor of Philadelphia. Probably fewer people are aware he was committing treason right under General Washington's nose during the 1779-80 Morris County winter encampment.

LWS 3255

This letter written by Arnold from West Point on August  15, 1780 to the state of Connecticut inquiring about the status of his claim for overdue compensation relating to his earlier campaigns in Canada and New York. What is interesting about this claim is that he was making it at the same time he was negotiating with the British for his services as a traitor.

Other Resources Used for This Project

A coded letter written in false hand during 1780 and addressed to the British, from the Clements Library (digital resource). It is not legible but the penmanship contrast with his August 15th letter is striking and lends to the air of intrigue in his plotting to betray his country.

An engraving of Arnold by HB Hall after a portrait by John Trumbull.

A rendering of British spy John Andre's capture and search by American soldiers. "The Capture of John Andre"

For other sources on Arnold, see:

The Secret History of the American Revolution by Carl Van Doren

The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

George Washington and Benedict Arnold by Dave Palmer

This feature by volunteer, Stephen Wilder.

No comments:

Post a Comment