More musing on Benedict Arnold

I have to admit a fascination with Benedict Arnold since his efforts helped to push forward the agenda he later described as “sinister views at the expence of the public interest”. Arnold’s military victories against the British, in particular the victory at Saratoga, helped to secure the French aid he so despised. It also raises the question of how many citizens were aware of the machinations that went on during the War for Independence? I have often mentioned French Involvement in this war as a contrast to the fighting farmer militiaman one is given to believe fought the war.

How many were “duped” into believing that the War for Independence was beneficial or necessary? How many would have preferred Union to independence yet remained silent? what would have been the outcome had Arnold supported Union and the Tory cause?

Arnold mentions in his letter that “we raised arms against a brother”. I am assuming that he means England,but the War for Independence was a civil war. Are the Loyalists the people Arnold refers to as “the great multitude who have long wished for its subversion”? What if Arnold has cast his lot with those who argued for restraint in dealing with their grievances with the motherland?

There is a part of me who sees two possible methods of defeating the rebels: military and civil. The civil method would have been to find those who were inclined toward the motherland and keep them informed of the overatures by people such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to the French. Would John Adams, who defended Captain Preston and his men, be inclined to a slow and reasoned approach with the motherland that would have sustained Union?

To be quite honest, when I see what has happened in this country, I am sure that many who supported Independence would regret that action. Benedict Arnold demonstrates that I don’t need to travel far into the future to see evidence of this. As George Washington said about Shays’ Rebellion:

“I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds that have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned in any country… What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious.”

I also find it interesting that another supporter of Independence, Samuel Chase, said: “our republican Constitution will sink to Mobocracy, the worst of all possible governments”. This statement is even more interesting in light of the “tea party” movement. Unfortunately (or fortunately), most colonials were not supportive of the original Tea Party’s wanton destruction of property.

It seems that people can be affected by events even if they hope to remain neutral. Unfortunately, you’ve got to fuck up royally to admit you made a mistake after wasting lives in a war.

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