| American History Stories, Volume II|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Tales of Revolutionary times, including the causes of the American Revolution, the daring exploits of those defending liberty, the early battles, the struggles of the army, and the heroes who led the colonists to victory. Ages 8-12 |
ARNOLD THE TRAITOR AND ANDRÉ THE SPY
 ONE of the most daring men
in the patriotic army for a time
was Benedict Arnold. He was
brilliant, daring, but cowardly
withal, mean-spirited, jealous and
treacherous. His meaner qualities
had not shown themselves very
much in his military life and, as
he had really been very brave and
had been of great service to the
country, Washington put him in
command at West Point, one of
the most important military posts in the whole country.
But the mean-hearted Arnold had already planned to
betray the post into the hands of the British; and Sir
Henry Clinton, a British officer, had promised to give him
£10,000 in English gold for his treacherous deed.
General Clinton sent a Major André to West Point to
visit Arnold and make definite arrangements for the betrayal.
He reached the American lines, met Arnold, and received
papers from Arnold in which his whole plans were written.
Putting these papers within his stockings, he started back
to the British camp.
He had passed the American lines, and had reached
 Tarrytown on the Hudson. Before night-fall he would be
in the camp at New York, and the plan for the surrender
would be in Clinton's hands. Almost free from apprehension
of danger he rode on. Suddenly three men appeared in his
path. Without producing his pass, he asked them, "Where
do you belong?"
"Down below," answered one. "Down below" meant
New York, and André was thrown off his guard by the
answer. "I belong there also," he said. "I am a British
officer on important business. Do not detain me."
"Then you are our prisoner," answered the men.
André then produced his pass, but as by his own
confession he was a British officer, it availed nothing. He
offered his watch, his purse, and more valuable than either,
he offered to deliver to them next day a cargo of English
dry goods if they would let him pass. They were unmoved
by his bribes, and already had begun to search him. They
searched pockets, saddle-bags, his hat. They even ripped
open the linings of his coat. The prisoner stood nearly
naked in the road, yet no paper had been found. At length
they pulled off his boots. His boots were empty; but they
heard the rustle of paper when they were drawn off. The
stockings came last, and in his stockings under the soles of
his feet were found, in Arnold's handwriting, the treasonable
papers, with a plan of the fort, the way to enter it—every
 thing, in short, that would make it easy for Clinton to get
André was at once taken to the nearest officer and given
up to him as a prisoner. André, true to Arnold even now,
 asked that he might be permitted to send a line to him. As
the papers had not been read, André's request was granted;
and Arnold received a note which told him of André's
Of course Arnold knew that his life was now in danger.
And so, hurrying from the fort, he leaped a precipice now
called Traitor's Hill, and rode to the nearest boat landing.
Thus he escaped to the British lines where he put himself
under the protection of Clinton.
The unfortunate André was sentenced to be hanged.
Clinton did all in his power to save the young man, who was
by no means as black-hearted as Arnold; but it was the
army law, and nothing could be done. Washington tried to
capture Arnold intending then to release André and hang
him instead. The plan failed, however, and André was
doomed to execution.
André wrote a very manly letter to Washington, asking
that he might be shot like a soldier, rather than be hanged
like a dog. Washington laid this letter before André's
judges, but they would not hear of any other death than
hanging for the unfortunate spy.
"Have you forgotten," said they, "how the British
hanged our brave Nathan Hale—the noble Nathan Hale,
whose last words were, 'I regret that I have but one life to
give for my country'? Have you forgotten that they would
not allow him to send one word to his mother, would not
 allow him to speak with his old minister?" "No," said
they, "André must die as Hale died,—on the gallows."
André met death like a brave man. He hoped to the last
that he might be shot and so die a soldier's death; and so
when he saw the gallows awaiting him, he gave a start,
shuddered, and said, "I am not afraid to die, but I hate
this way of dying."
Seeing that all was ready for him, he stepped into the
wagon, bandaged his own eyes, fastened the rope about his
neck and said, "I pray you to hear me witness that I meet
my fate like a brave man." Thus ended Major André's
life, a tragedy which is one of the most touching of this
Arnold, during the remainder of the war, fought on the
English side; and at its close, since no one in America had
any respect for him, he went to live in England. Even
there he was held in contempt by the very ones to
whom he had sold himself; so that, since he was a proud
man to the end, we know he must have suffered most
keenly for his dastardly act.
At one time, while he was living in England, a gentleman
who was about to come to America on a visit asked Arnold
to give him some letters of introduction to some of the
leading families in America. Arnold's reply shows how
bitterly he was paying for having sold his own soul. He
said, "Alas, in all that great country which gave me birth
there is not one man whom I can call friend."
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