Saturday, July 05, 2008

Remembering the Revolution

There are always interesting news items and stories about history that show up on July 4 every year. My friend and fellow contributing editor at the Religion in American History blog John Fea, history professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvnia and author of the recently published biography on Philip Vickers Fithian (buy this good book here), points to several in a nice list of op-eds on his newly created book blog.

I'd like to add one to the list--an editorial on Benedict Arnold, the famous Patriot-turned-Loyalist, or as some have it, Patriot-turned-Traitor, during the American Revolution. My Ph.D. advisor James Kirby Martin, author of one of the leading biographies of Arnold, offers his perspective in the article. [Update: see Martin in "Why the Patriots Really Fought."]

Says Martin: "This was a man who began in 1775 as the most ardent of patriots, but he grew to feel that turning back to England would be the best course for the country."

"Virtue is a key concept in the Revolution, and Congress repeatedly insulted Arnold's virtue."

"The only sensible course, in Arnold's mind, was to return his political loyalty to the British parent nation before everything was lost."

"[George] Washington knew that they had to destroy this guy top, bottom, and sideways, and forever associate him with treason."

"The tragedy of Benedict Arnold is that his incredible acts on behalf of the cause of liberty have been washed away and basically forgotten."


Anonymous said...

...and popular culture has used his name in incorrect ways confusing the general public of true historical understanding. I will say I could give him more time in my courses than I do.

Phil said...

Agreed. How do you plan to give him more time in your courses? Perhaps JKM would be willing to interact with your class on a blog-similar to the author interview approach I used with Northrup.

Anonymous said...

I cannot spend too much time on him giving the amount of material that must be taught; however, I do use him as an example to start a discussion on what is meant by the term treason?