When you "pull a Benedict Arnold," you sell out your side to join the stronger side of a situation out of fear, not honor. Needless to say, that's not a compliment.
More than 230 years after America secured independence from Britain, this skilled warrior and confidante of George Washington is remembered as a traitor and coward for defecting to the British side.
But it's not that easy.
The Revolution was a chaotic time. Some say America was in its first Civil War, when dangers greater than the British threatened our fledgling government. Congress was in constant battle with the military and feelings ran high over whether power should reside in the states or the federal government.
And it took a toll on the men who fought this bloody and protracted war. Leadership was often ineffective, greed was rampant, and militias fought without pay, few provisions, and little training. Family farms were looted and destroyed, the economy collapsed, and the Native Americans usually fought for the British.
Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country, fighting against friends and former comrades. He was impetuous and quick to anger. He also fought valiantly for the Revolution, often turning the tide toward America in decisive battles. Yet, he got little respect, less pay, and was a target of a politicized Congress.
Is it time to take another look at Benedict Arnold and the Revolution that birthed America?
- Nathaniel Philbrick - Author of In the Heart of the Sea; Mayflower; and Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution
- Eric Lehman - Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at University of Bridgeport; author of Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London
- Brad Meltzer - Author of The Inner Circle; The Book of Fate; and The House of Secrets
Colin McEnroe, Chion Wolf, and Greg Hill contributed to this show, which originally aired on June 16, 2016.