Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Advisor

Joel Cohen


This thesis will examine Benedict Arnold's life assessing the mercenary nature of his military career in the larger context of financial gain under the guise of military operations. Arnold's actions as a Continental officer and as a British general became overshadowed by his act of treason, and as such, there has been no serious examination of his personal and business affairs from 1779 to 1801.

Throughout the war Arnold was the object of several Congressional and military investigations for financial mismanagement and abuse of power. The accusations against Arnold would become secondary, as the priorities of the war superseded the need for justice. As Arnold's lifestyle exceeded his Continental pay rumors of theft, financial mishandling, embezzlement and war profiteering would persist. Despite heroic actions on the battlefield Arnold could not remove the stain of impropriety. Taking up the British cause, Arnold attacked specific areas of the east coast that were centers of trade and commerce.

After the war, considered to be a refugee divorced of all his holdings, Arnold arrived in England and immediately set about building a merchant fleet that would give rise to a trading empire on both sides of the Atlantic.



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