Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, the Woman behind Benedict Arnolds Plot to Betray America by Stephen H. CaseHistories of the Revolutionary War have long honored heroines such as Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, and Molly Pitcher. Now, more than two centuries later, comes the first biography of one of the wars most remarkable women, a beautiful Philadelphia society girl named Peggy Shippen. While war was raging between England and its rebellious colonists, Peggy befriended a suave British officer and then married a crippled revolutionary general twice her age. She brought the two men together in a treasonous plot that nearly turned George Washington into a prisoner and changed the course of the war. Peggy Shippen was Mrs. Benedict Arnold.
After the conspiracy was exposed, Peggy managed to convince powerful men like Washington and Alexander Hamilton of her innocence. The Founding Fathers were handicapped by the common view that women lacked the sophistication for politics or warfare, much less treason. And Peggy took full advantage.
Peggy was to the American Revolution what the fictional Scarlett OHara was to the Civil War: a woman whose survival skills trumped all other values. Had she been a man, she might have been arrested, tried, and executed. And she might have become famous. Instead, her role was minimized and she was allowed to recede into the background - with a generous British pension in hand.
In Treacherous Beauty, Mark Jacob and Stephen H. Case tell the true story of Peggy Shippen, a driving force in a conspiracy that came within an eyelash of dooming the American democracy.
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As he rode back toward his army after a frustrating conference with his French allies at Hartford, Connecticut, on September 24, , George Washington felt the need of some gaiety to raise his melancholy spirits. Business, however, intervened. On the road he met the French ambassador, Chevalier Anne Cesar de la Luzerne, and had to pause for further involved negotiations.
Stephen H. Case
Benedict Arnold Is America’s Most Famous Traitor. But You Probably Don’t Know His Whole Story
He was handsome and charismatic, with black hair, gray eyes and an aquiline nose, and he carried himself with the lissome elegance of a natural athlete. He was born in , a descendant of the Rhode Island equivalent of royalty. By his mids he had had enough success as an apothecary and a seagoing merchant to begin building one of the finest homes in town. But he remained hypersensitive to any slight, and like many gentlemen of his time he had challenged more than one man to a duel. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, he convinced Dr. As it turned out, others had the same idea, and Arnold was forced to form an uneasy alliance with Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys before the two leaders strode side by side into Ticonderoga.
Thereafter his name became an epithet for traitor in the United States. Upon the outbreak of hostilities at Lexington, Massachusetts April , Arnold volunteered for service and participated with Ethan Allen in the successful colonial attack on British-held Fort Ticonderoga , New York , the following month. That autumn he was appointed by General George Washington to command an expedition to capture Quebec. He marched with men by way of the Maine wilderness, a remarkable feat of woodsmanship and endurance, and, reinforced by General Richard Montgomery, attacked the well-fortified city. The combined assault December 31, failed, Montgomery was killed, and Arnold was severely wounded. Promoted to the rank of brigadier general , Arnold constructed a flotilla on Lake Champlain and inflicted severe losses on a greatly superior enemy fleet near Valcour Island, New York October 11, He returned a hero, but his rash courage and impatient energy had aroused the enmity of several officers.
Benedict Arnold was an early American hero of the Revolutionary War who later became one of the most infamous traitors in U. At the outbreak of the war, Arnold participated in the capture of the British garrison of Fort Ticonderoga in Yet Arnold never received the recognition he thought he deserved. In , he entered into secret negotiations with the British, agreeing to turn over the U. The plot was discovered, but Arnold escaped to British lines.
On September 21, , Revolutionary War hero Benedict Arnold turned his back on his country in a secret meeting with a top British official.
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Treason has become a talking point on both sides of the aisle. Now, however, everyone does. Nearly years after he defected to the British, Major-General Benedict Arnold remains among the most vilified figures in American history. Ever since Sept. What would he think of his name once again making news?
Arnold, who was raised in a respected family in Norwich, Connecticut , apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War He later became a successful trader and joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold had enemies within the military and in , a group of lower-ranking men were promoted ahead of him. Over the next several years, Arnold married a second time and he and his wife led a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, racking up substantial debt.
This monument was erected under the patronage of the State of Connecticut in the 55th year of the Independence of the U. AD , when the British, under the command of the Traitor Benedict Arnold , burnt the towns of New London and Groton and spread desolation and woe throughout the region. Benedict Arnold January 14, [ O. George Washington had given him his fullest trust and placed him in command of the fortifications at West Point, New York. Arnold planned to surrender the fort to British forces, but the plot was discovered in September and he fled to the British. His name quickly became a byword in the United States for treason and betrayal because he led the British army in battle against the very men whom he had once commanded.