Choices and Legacies

Today in History, August 30: 1780 – Heretofore known as a dedicated, fierce warrior for the American cause, a hero of the Canadian campaign who had lost a leg in the service of his country, 38-year-old Benedict Arnold trades these monikers in to make his name synonymous with treason. 

 On this date Arnold, who had been given the command of the fortress at West Point, offers to surrender it to the British in exchange for 10,000 pounds and a commission in the British Army.

Strapped for cash, angry over perceived slights by his contemporaries, and trying support the desires of his 21-year-old wife who came from a wealthy British family, Arnold made all the wrong choices. He would die in 1801 in London, forsaken by his country, ignored by the British, impoverished. 

If he had stood fast with his country, his name would be in the line of Washington, Greene, and Lee.

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