THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Today In History: Bendict Arnold

January 14th is the birthday of Benedict Arnold, the American Revolutionary general and traitor. When the newly formed United States of America was handing out jobs, he'd hoped this dual experience would put him alongside the Surgeon General and Attorney General as the Traitor General. No one liked this idea.

Early in life, Arnold fought in the French and Indian Wars with the colonial militia. He then became a successful trader. So really, it was a pretty natural career path to become a successful traitor, as he only needed to slightly alter his business cards.

At first, Arnold seemed like an all right guy. When he heard about the Boston Massacre, in 1770, he wrote that the colonists must take "immediate vengeance!" In an early attempt to prove he was a traitor, Arnold's enemies brought this up, arguing that it was a secret coded letter of support for the British, who should take "immediate vengeance!" for 1773's Boston Tea Party. According to them, part of the secret code was to pretend every day is opposite day. Oh, and also to see the future. Proof of Arnold's betrayal really didn't come until later, when they found all those letters he wrote offering to betray his country.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Arnold joined forces with Ethan Allen, the famous general and couch seller. But even the most comfortable furniture in the world could not keep Benedict Arnold from becoming such a Benedict Arnold. First, five other generals were promoted above Arnold, even though General Washington was against the idea. Washington kept saying "Helloooooo? George Washington here...doesn't that mean anything to you guys?!??!" but no one listened. Also, Arnold's wife was from a family of Loyalist sympathizers -- she was known as the Yoko Ono of the Revolution. Then his anger at the American government grew even more, because he was court-martialed, which, to be fair, would put anyone in a bad mood. There were signs all along, but no one put them together. Most people described him as "a pretty nice guy."

In 1780, Arnold became in charge of West Point. Then someone discovered his secret treasonous plot -- he had agreed to surrender West Point to the British in exchange for a job and some money!!! But he still managed to escape, and then in 1781 he actually led two raids against America -- for the British!!! I mean are you kidding me???? Anyway, he spent the last part of his life in exile in England and Canada. Hopefully, during that time, people were really mean to him.