Peggy Shippen Arnold, The Real Traitor?

By | January 11, 2019

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Peggy Shippen Arnold, played by Julia Manning, pleads with two officers in a 1971 play about Benedict Arnold. Source: (Denver Post via Getty Images)

Benedict Arnold’s name is forever synonymous with being a traitor and with good reason. Arnold, history tells us, handed over the plans to West Point to Major John Andre, the head of British intelligence, during the Revolutionary War and then famously switched sides to fight for the British. But a more recent theory claims that Benedict Arnold may have just been a pawn and that the real mastermind behind America’s most famous act of treason was Arnold’s wife, Peggy Shippen Arnold.

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Benedict Arnold. Source: (

Who was Benedict Arnold?

The Connecticut-born Benedict Arnold was a merchant sailor until the Revolutionary War started. He joined the Continental Army and rose to the rank of Major General. General George Washington tasked him with fortifying and protecting West Point in 1780. Arnold had other plans. He took measures to weaken the fort’s defenses and supplied the enemy with the blueprints for the fort. Arnold’s plan was uncovered in September of 1780 and Arnold immediately fled to the British for protection. He joined the British Army and was given the rank of Brigadier General.