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Traitor: The life and Death of Benidict Arnold
February 17, 1760: My name is Benedict Arnold; I was born in the colony of Connecticut on January 14, 1741. I am now 19 years old and have a wife named Margaret Mansfield. She is the only reason why I am writing this journal because she says that I need to release my anger somehow. Margaret is 20 years old and has blond hair. She currently helps me with the store, but I fear that if she catches a disease, becomes ill, or lame, I will be alone to run the shop, which is an impossible undertaking. I currently have no children, but I am hoping that that will quickly change.
I am loyal to no one except my family and myself. I was in the local militia many times, but I always left my post and was never caught. I don’t really know how it happened, but I am the captain of the local militia.
My current job is a book and druggist shop owner, from which I make quite a profit. However, I am hoping to begin trading in the West Indies in the near future for handsome revenues. As a child, I always dreamed about being rich and living in a large house that everyone would admire, but that will never happen for me.
Life in the colonies is so much better than living in England, from what I hear. Over in England there are taxes for everything from windows to salt. I also understand that the crime rate is so high, you can’t even take a stroll at night for even a moment. Unfortunately, I heard that King George II has died, rest his soul, and his grandson King George III is to be crowned, and take over the kingdom. I always heard that he was not too keen in political affairs and leadership, so I can only hope that he will guide his kingdom in a valiant direction.
May 14, 1770: It has been ten years since I last wrote in this journal. The only reason I have for writing in here is that I found this in my steamer trunk and I cannot talk to anyone else at the current moment. I am currently in the West Indies trading various items. I am scheduled to head back to the Colonies three days from now.
After spending the day in the market, I learned from a merchant that in Boston, British troops killed innocent civilians. He called it the Boston Massacre. The merchant then sold me a copy of the newspaper exhibiting a full color engraving of what conspired. The British troops were in line and firing on a large group of innocent civilians. This absolutely outraged me. My first thought when I saw the engraving was that the Bostonians should take immediate vengeance on the British.
Over the past seven years, Great Britain has been tightening her grip on the colonies by raising the taxes and sending more troops over. All of this is due to King George, he is more stupid than I had believed and is running the country down into the ground. It all started with The Proclamation of 1763, we started having trouble with the Indians after the French and Indian War so the King drew a line down the center of the Appalachians and said, “Neither side is to cross it.” The Sugar and Stamp Acts put a tax on all paper products and sugar, but a year later the Stamp Act was withdrawn. The Townshend Act is what hurt business a lot, in my estimation. It placed a small indirect tax on many products; people then began to boycott these items and using alternatives, such as using pine needles instead of tea leaves. I hope that lawmakers over in England will start making smarter decisions, but only time will tell if they do.
October 30, 1777: It is freezing cold, my teeth are chattering so hard that I am surprised that they are not completely gone. However, I am not allowed to show the men that I am just as cold as they are. Food is scarce, even for the officers; it is so bad that one night all the officers had to eat hardtack and were given a half a cup of water to wash it down. I am currently in Saratoga, New York where we have just fought a major battle.
This trouble all started back in 1775 when the British army marched up to Concord, Massachusetts. Their goal was to take all of the rebels’ weapons to prevent any uprising, instead it started a war. Paul Revere, a local silversmith, road to Lexington, Massachusetts to warn the Minutemen. When the British reached Lexington, they found the Minutemen lined-up in full formation. Suddenly without warning, both sides heard a shot from the woods and began to fire on each other. When I heard of this event, I knew that the colonies must go to war. We have tried to persuade the king to change his ways; unfortunately, none have worked.
A year later, men from each colony assembled in Philadelphia to sign a document that I know will be the key to our future; it is called The Declaration of Independence. This document separates us from Britain completely. It also states what the King has done to create this conflict. I personally believe that the colonies have every right to do this because King George has ignored every attempt that we have tried thus far so we can restore the peace. I can only imagine his reaction when he receives the document. He will be so furious that his face will turn as red as a tomato; but he will not take us too seriously because we are like a child and England is like a parent-- an annoying, overbearing parent, that is.
So far, the war has not been going the best for everyone. The war has caused a large amount of inflation on all commodities. A big reason for why this is happening is due to the certificates of debt. They are little pieces of paper that are worth seven shillings. Unfortunately, no one accepts them. This has lead to soldiers threatening and even killing the shopkeepers. However, the war has been going good for me; I have recently been promoted to a Brigadier General. But, the best thing that has happened lately is our latest victory here at Saratoga. The British army’s latest plan was to try to separate Massachusetts from the other colonies. Our victory here has prevented this from happening. I hear rumors that, due to this victory, the French will finally join our cause. I hope this happens so we can get this bloody war over with.
September 19, 1779: I am ruined! I am in debt, I had to resign from my position in the army, and I am now known as a traitor. This whole incident started because of debt and my endless search for more power.
It all started out in 1778, the British had just moved out of Philadelphia and I was the General in charge. After a few months of peace, I noticed that I was slowly falling into debt, so I began to use the army wagons to move goods and sell them to the people in the city; then to eliminate the competition, I shut down all stores in the city so its citizens could only buy goods from me. If a man has the opportunity to use what is available to him to keep himself out of debt after he has done a great deed, shouldn’t he? For me, the money started piling up and I finally was beginning to get out of debt; however, good things never seem to last. I was Court Marshaled and charged with corruption when I did not commit the crime. To avoid the punishment, I resigned from my position on March 19, 1779 in embarrassment and rage.
In the few months after my resignation, I thought long and hard about my next step. Then in May of 1779, I sent for Joseph Stansbury to help me contact John André, a British officer. That was the day I sold my soul to the Devil, and for a very good price. I have helped American forces take over Fort Schuyler. I have helped to defeat General Burgoyne. I have helped Ethan Allen and his no-good bunch of country hicks take Fort Ticonderoga. And what does the army do for me, they Court Marshal me for trying to make money on the side. Therefore, I felt no remorse. John André offered me a large sum of money and an officer rank in the British army if I would tell him everything I knew about the rebels. At first, everything worked perfectly, until one night he was captured by Colonial soldiers. They then found letters detailing my involvement in treason inside his sock.
As I hear the clop of the horses’ hooves coming closer to my home, I quickly pack my things and wake my wife and children. We then quickly leave the house out the back entrance. As the soldiers marched up to my house and banged loudly on the door, I thought to myself, “They will never catch me, at least not alive.”
June 13, 1801: It is hard for me to breathe and when I do, I make a sound much like the squealing of a pig. I am dying, and I fear that I will not make it through the night. Therefore, I will keep this short. I am now 60 years old and my life has been horrible. I regret becoming a traitor to the Americans, the money was never enough and I was never fully trusted as an officer. Unfortunately, it is too late to change anything.
The outcome of the war shocks even me; it turned out that we underestimated the Colonial army in many ways. Surprisingly, England lost the war and America won freedom and independence. The biggest reason for this I believe is due to the stupidity of the leaders of the British army. If they just had more intelligent leaders, then we would have won. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris, this document separated the colonies completely from England and gave the Americans many rights.
I am currently living in London, England with my wife and my children all grown. I tried to restart my trading business here, but the taxes are too high to make enough of a profit to make it worthwhile. The only thing I regret is not having enough money. It is getting harder to breathe; I can see my eyes starting to glaze. I have finally learned the secret to life, it is…