Whatever Became of Benedict Arnold?

Nearly Forgotten History on the Coast Series

Benedict Arnold's Later Years

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada 1785 - 1791

by m/v Dyad

Benedict Arnold After the War. He didn't retire quietly.

After the war, Benedict Arnold spent time in London. By the fall of 1785, he had alienated all of his influential ties. That year, he sailed to Saint John, New Brunswick for a fresh start.

In spite of his desire to start fresh, Arnold's old ways soon surfaced. Usually by shady means, he established a warehouse and store, built a modest house, speculated in land, and bought businesses, including a lumberyard, a shipyard, and an interest in a trading sloop.

Leaving his partner, Munson Hayt, in charge, Arnold set sail aboard Lord Sheffield to pick up merchandise in the Indies, then headed to London on a packet to pick up his wife, Peggy and his children. Peggy had been left in London fending off several lawsuits against Arnold.

The entire Arnold family arrived in Saint John in July 1787. More lawsuits over collection landed in Arnold's lap. Ignoring the lawsuits, the Arnold's bought a splendid home in the prime neighborhood and furnished it lavishly.

Arnold left for London again in early 1788 with a cargo of goods. While there, he became intrigued by the newly created insurance market. He took out policies for his warehouse, its inventory, and the goods in his King Street store.

Returning to St. John he discovered that in his absence a fire had broken out and destroyed his warehouse. Henry, Arnold's son was seen in the warehouse the night the building burned. There were rumors of arson, and the insurance underwriters in London refused liability.

Hayt alleged that Arnold had defrauded him and claimed that Arnold had been bragging that he had burned down his own store. Hayt named Arnold "The greatest rascal that ever was."

The public had grown exhausted with Arnold’s arrogance. They still believed he had started that fire. Finally, riled beyond endurance, a mob gathered in front of his house and burned Benedict Arnold in effigy while shouting “Traitor!”

In December 1791, the Arnold's left Saint John for good and set sail for England. A troubled life continued until early June 1801 when Benedict Arnold died. The papers barely took notice.

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