Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Loyalist, Traitor or What?

Sharing the continent with the American goliath means that we receive much information from their perspective. I mean to say that when you have 300 million rich and powerful neighbours, you tend to take note, and one thing that I've noted is that Benedict Arnold was a traitor. Equating treachery with Benny Boy is as common up here as it is down there.

So, when I came to a chainsaw carving (background story a few posts down — this post would have been sequential if ... well ... it's a long story) of Mr Arnold in Saint John, I was somewhat taken aback by the title in the accompanying description: "Rebel and Loyalist." How's that? Shouldn't it read "Patriot Turned Traitor?" Well, it should if you are American but apparently not if you are British, or even Canadian I guess. From the British standpoint, he was a rebel who returned to the faith, so to speak.



According to the signage (and this information is all on the picture of the plaque below if you don't believe me and wish to embiggen in order to read the original), Benedict Arnold had won some major victories for the US army but married a British Loyalist when he was recuperating from battle wounds. Apparently, she influenced Arnold to engage in a wee bit o' espionage, which, as you might imagine, kind of led to him falling out of favour with the Yankee Doodle Dandies. Subsequently, I imagine he piqued their ire even more by leading British troops to victory against his former allies in several battles. Be that as it may, when the Brits lost the war he headed swiftly and forthwith to the safe shores of England.

The connection to our holidays is that from England the Loyal or Traitorous or both Mr Arnold ended up living in Saint John for six years beginning in 1783. He opened a store and traded with the West Indies and became a prominent if distrusted and envied citizen. Why he might be distrusted, I can't begin to think. He returned to England after his warehouse burned down.

So there's an interesting new point of view for me and some facts which I was entirely unaware of ... if you'll excuse the terminal preposition, which I am completely in favour ... of.

13 comments:

jinksy said...

Speaking as a Brit, I think I'm quite gald to say I've never heard of the bloke! lol :)

simplycol.com said...

Quite the life he lead. The real stories behind the legends are often so fascinating.

Holly, the Old Western Gal said...

AC, kindly correct your statistics. You have 299,999,999 rich and powerful neighbors to the south. I'm poor.

LOL. Oh, we can't stand ol' B.A. around here!!!

Mara said...

I thought he played in the A-team! I might have to brush up on my Canadian history before I come over...

Ginnie said...

I agree with Holly...I'm definitely not one of the wealthy ones...but we do have a lot of riches that are shamefully wasted in our country. I have a blog half written about this very thing.

Anvilcloud said...

I look forward to your words of wisdom, Ginny.

Bernie said...

Gosh AC you and cuppa have shown me so many things I hadn't seen or knew about NB (this is one of them) and to think I lived in Moncton for 21 years.....suddenly I feel quite dumb....:-) Hugs

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Learn something every day and just from reading blog posts. Thanks for the info, AC, and the photo, but he looks a bit stiff to me.

Anvilcloud said...

But, is he a lucky stiff, I wonder.

KGMom said...

Perspective is all--from where one stands the view changes.

Lorna said...

Just be careful not to pique MY ire.

Ruth said...

Donna expressed my thoughts very eloquently... Hero/traitor separated by a very fine line.

Loner said...

Diana Gabaldon uses Arnold as a fictitious character in her Outlander series - or at least in the last one. So interesting because she paints him very much like the note you posted. The book is a historical fiction around the time of the Revolutionary War- and Arnold is portrayed as both hero and villan in the same novel. He's a little stiff in your picture as well!