Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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September 21st
Benedict Arnold Commits Treason
On September 21, 1780, General Benedict Arnold betrayed his country when he gave the British information that could allow them to capture the American fort at West Point on the Hudson River in New York.

At the time, Americans regarded Arnold as a hero for his bravery in the Revolutionary War. He had fought with daring skill at Fort Ticonderoga, Quebec, Valcour Island, and Saratoga. But he grew resentful at promotions other officers received, and he hungered for money to support the lifestyle he enjoyed with his young wife, the beautiful young Peggy Shippen. Arnold began exchanging secret messages with the enemy, offering betrayal in exchange for money and high rank in the British army.

On the night of September 21, he sealed the traitorous deal when he met with Major John André, aide to the commander of all British forces in North America, and handed him detailed information on West Point, which Arnold commanded. Arnold returned to the fort while André, disguised in civilian’s clothes, made his way toward the British lines.

Two days later, Patriot militiamen stopped André and were shocked to discover who he was – and that he carried details about West Point in his boots, including some papers in Arnold’s handwriting. Arnold was at breakfast when he received word of André’s capture. He quickly excused himself, boarded his barge, and escaped to a British warship anchored in the Hudson – aptly named HMS Vulture.

Arnold fought for the British for the rest of the Revolution, leading troops that burned Richmond, Virginia, and New London, Connecticut. After the war he went to England, where he died in 1801, scorned by many even there. Like almost all traitors, Arnold acted not for any ideals, but for personal gain, and he earned himself the most infamous name in American history.

American History Parade
1780
Benedict Arnold gives detailed plans of West Point to Major John André.

1784
The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, the first successful American daily newspaper, begins publication in Philadelphia.

1893
In Springfield, Massachusetts, Charles and Frank Duryea take what is believed to be the first gasoline-powered automobile built in the United States for a maiden drive.

1897
The New York Sun runs an editorial answering eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon’s question: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

1970
Monday Night Football debuts on ABC (Browns defeat Jets, 31–21).

2008
The final baseball game is played at the old Yankees Stadium (New York defeats Baltimore 7–3).
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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