October 5 – Happy Birthday Benedict Arnold

bArnold2No not that one. This Benedict Arnold was born in Amsterdam on October 5, 1780, which was two weeks after the other Benedict Arnold’s plans to turn over West Point to the British were discovered. Since there were no cell phones, Internet, telephones, telegraph, air mail etc. back then, Elisha and Sarah Arnold had no way of knowing they had just named their newborn son and youngest of nine children after the most infamous traitor in our country’s history. The news of the General’s treachery had not yet reached Amsterdam.

As it turned out, Amsterdam’s Benedict Arnold did just fine in life despite the negative connotation his name must have caused each time he was introduced to someone. You had to believe he came up with some sort of one line comeback whenever a new acquaintance was introduced, perhaps something like “Pleasure to meet you but please don’t tell me anything you wish to keep a secret.”

It helped that the Arnold’s were evidently one of Amsterdam’s earliest families and largest landowners. Young Benedict attended Amsterdam’s common schools and became a merchant. His general store was located on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. He also served in the New York State Militia during the War of 1812…

You can read the rest of my story about this unfortunately named historical figure in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.


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