Color mezzotint of Benedict Arnold, 1776, London, by Thomas Hart
During the War of Independence, cunning spies, clever strategists, and treacherous turncoats used intelligence to literally shape the course of history. George Washington understood “the advantage of obtaining the earliest and best Intelligence of the designs of the enemy,” and he was willing to pay for it. In this series, intelligence experts and historians explore individuals and incidents in which espionage played a critical part in the Revolution.
Benedict Arnold: Turncoat
He could have been one of the most revered Revolutionary War heroes, but ended up as the reason that treason is the only crime mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. But there’s much more to the story. What actually caused him to switch sides? Was he influenced by his young Tory-leaning wife, insulted by slights, passed over for promotions, simply broke—or all of these reasons? Retired CIA intelligence officer Ken Daigler, author of Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: America in the Revolutionary War, looks at Arnold’s background and the details of the intelligence operation that ended in his disgrace. He also discusses why this was truly a British intelligence failure, and the roles played by that army’s Major John Andre and General Henry Clinton.
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International Spy Museum
800 F St NW, Washington, DC
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown