Benedict Arnold

Hey man, where’s your loyalty at? This guy’s name is now synonymous with betrayal. Which is a shame, because it used to be synonymous with a really delicious plate of eggs.

LanguageEnglish Language
U.S. HistoryColonial America: 1600-1754

Transcript

00:34

For a while, Arnold was your typical, fed-up American colonist.

00:39

He was a tradesman and member of the Sons of Liberty...

00:42

...who defied the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act by continuing to trade without

00:46

paying taxes to the monarchy.

00:50

He was lucky the IRS hadn't been established yet.

00:52

They probably would have paid him a friendly little "visit."

00:56

Arnold had made it clear he was pretty "anti-monarchy" in the past.

01:00

He had retaliated along with others in response to the Boston Massacre...

01:04

...and had fought as a General in Washington's Continental Army.

01:09

He sounds like the last guy in the world who would turn snitch...

01:14

...but guess it goes to show you can never really know a person.

01:18

Arnold felt passed over for a number of military campaigns and promotions.

01:22

Um... bitter much?

01:27

While he was a decorated officer...

01:32

...he still felt he wasn't getting the respect he deserved.

01:37

This guy was super-sensitive. He would have been a rich man if he had a nickel for every

01:41

time that someone "hurt his feelings."

01:46

Anyway, Arnold took his first steps toward the Dark Side...

01:52

... when he married Peggy Shippen...

01:53

...who was the daughter of a well-known loyalist.

01:58

The loyalists were totally pro-England.

02:02

We're talking about some real crumpet-lovers here.

02:06

With the business in the toilet...

02:09

...and his problems with Washington and the administration...

02:13

Arnold decided he didn't have anything to lose and became an informer!

02:20

And now he had a wife who could...

02:21

...hook him up with the right people.

02:23

Specifically, a British officer who would take Arnold's information and relay it to

02:27

the muckety-mucks in the British army. However, since Arnold was the kind of guy

02:31

who felt the whole world owed him something...

02:33

...it may not surprise you to learn that he had his problems with the British as well.

02:37

He felt they weren't paying him enough for the information...

02:40

...and he made persistent threats to start zipping his lip.

02:43

But the British needed him. So they caved to his demands.

02:50

Arnold was appointed at West Point,

02:53

and he told the British that he would surrender to them without a fight.

02:57

Well, at least no one would get any blood on their clean, white shirts.

03:03

He also continued to feed the British more information about Washington's movements...

03:11

...and took steps to move his personal assets to a London account,

03:16

as well as to sell his house.

03:20

However, before Arnold's scheme could be carried out...

03:23

Andre, a fellow British spy, was captured.

03:27

Suddenly, all the documents that detailed

03:29

Arnold's involvement fell into American hands.

03:34

Once Washington caught wind of the situation...

03:37

...Arnold was in deep, deep doo-doo. Arnold had found out that Andre had been arrested.

03:46

And since the jig was up, he made a run for it.

03:50

Unable to rejoin his fellow countrymen, Arnold took up a position in the British Army.

03:57

He got paid peanuts compared to what he was making as an informant...

04:00

...and didn't make a ton of friends on the British side either.

04:05

He was basically an outcast for the rest of his days.

04:08

Arnold died with a boatload of debt...

04:11

...and his funeral would be conducted without military honors.

04:19

The moral of the story?

04:20

Don't be a rat.

04:21

Because when the cheese runs out...

04:23

You're going to find yourself trapped.

04:26

We think we'll call him "Arnold"...