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Old Treason House, Haverstraw, Photograph Taken c. 1900

Old Treason House, Haverstraw
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_D47_HeH
 
Document Description
Old Treason House near Haverstraw, New York, once the home of Joshua Hett Smith, where on Sept. 22, 1780, Benedict Arnold and Major André planned the surrender of West Point. Photograph taken circa 1900.
 
Questions
Why would the British want to know an estimate of forces at West Point?
What advantages would the British have if they controlled West Point?
Would that have changed the Revolution’s outcome?
 
Historical Challenges
When Major André left his meeting with Benedict Arnold at the house in this photograph, where did he go? How far did he travel before he was captured? Mark his route on a map of New York.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Pretend it is after the American Revolution. Write a letter to General Washington convincing him that Benedict Arnold should be commemorated as either a traitor or a hero.
 
Resources

Fritz, Jean. Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold. New York: Putnam, 1981. ISBN: 0399208348.

Gaines, Ann. Benedict Arnold: Patriot or Traitor? Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2001. ISBN: 0766013936.
 

Historical Context
Benedict Arnold was a man who had a great future ahead of him. He was brave and daring. At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home and enlisted in the Connecticut Army to help defeat the French during the French and Indian War.

After that war, Arnold remained in the Army and quickly rose through the ranks. He was very active in the northern battles of the American Revolution, such as Ticonderoga, Saratoga, and Lake Champlain. Unfortunately, he became very bitter. He was accused of stealing civilian goods. These charges were brought to court martial, but he was acquitted. Arnold continued to grow more and more discontented. He believed he was regularly overlooked for promotions and higher positions.

It was during this time that Arnold married an American Loyalist he met while in Philadelphia. He also began meeting with an American Loyalist named John André. André and Arnold decided to turn West Point over to the British. This would give the British control over the Hudson River. In July of 1780, Arnold sought and received the command at West Point.

Luckily for the Americans, the plot was uncovered with the capture of André. Arnold fled to the British lines in New York, where he was commissioned as an officer. Arnold and his wife left for London in 1781, where they lived the rest of their days, although Arnold was never fully accepted into British society.

 

 
Essential Question
Why do individuals turn against their country?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the circumstances that led Benedict Arnold and Major Andre to this place.