Benedict Arnold in Saint John, New Brunswick
America’s most notorious traitor, Benedict Arnold, was a merchant in New Haven, Connecticut. In his youth he volunteered to serve in the British colonial militia but after the revolt of the Americans following the Boston Tea Party he joined the Continental Army and distinguished himself as a true revolutionary.
Benedict Arnold rose to the rank general in the Continental Army. In 1780 he was appointed commander of the fort at West Point. He betrayed the cause of the American War of Independence by plotting to hand over the fort to the British. His treachery was discovered and he fled to New York, then under British control. The British gave Arnold the rank of brigadier general and he led British troops in several engagements against the Patriots. After British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown in 1781, Benedict Arnold sailed with his family to England where his service to the British cause was praised by King George III.
Arnold, unable to find a command in the British army, left London in 1785 and settled in Saint John, New Brunswick. There he was surrounded by fellow loyalists who had fled the New England colonies and sailed north with their families and their possessions.
In New Brunswick, Benedict Arnold began to rebuild his fortunes by acquiring large plots of land and engaging in the shipping trade with the West Indies. He was accused of not paying his debts. He took his accusers to court charging them with slander. The people of Saint John were so upset with his behavior that a mob assembled before his house and burned him in effigy. The hostile environment in the British Colony of New Brunswick proved too much for Benedict Arnold and his family. They crossed the Atlantic and resettled in London in 1791.
In England, Arnold continued to make a living in trade with the West Indies. He also persisted in having arguments with almost everyone he did business with. He was a hot-head who could not take criticism, so when the Earl of Lauderdale said publicly that he was not an honorable man, Benedict Arnold challenged him to a duel. Neither of the two was skilled with the use of a pistol so no blood was shed.
Sailing aboard one of his ships, Benedict Arnold was captured by the French in the West Indies. He was charged with being a spy for the English. He escaped hanging by bribing his guards and he managed to make it out of the port of the island of Guadeloupe and was rescued by a British ship. After that, he helped the British settlers in the Caribbean raise militias to fight the French. For this service he was granted a large tract of land in Upper Canada.
Benedict Arnold died in London in 1801. His name went down in history as America’s most notorious traitor and in Saint John as a argumentative and unreliable businessman.