Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold


Benedict Arnold

January 14, 1740: American soldier, British soldier and traitor to the American Revolution

On January 14, 1741, in Norwich, Connecticut a future brother was born whose name later became synonymous with the diabolic deeds he committed against his country and fraternity. Forever labeled traitor, the name Benedict Arnold is not to be mentioned in many open lodges in the United States to this day.

Born to a wealthy family, the young Arnold started out as a bookseller and retailer of medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. After a series of questionable real estate transactions, he expanded his merchant business by purchasing three cargo ships to trade goods in the West Indies. Appointing himself Captain on several voyages in the islands, he was initiated in Freemasonry and later affiliated with Hiram Lodge No. 1 in New Haven, Connecticut in 1765. Two years later, Arnold married Margaret Mansfield, the daughter of Brother Samuel Mansfield, member of Hiram No. 1 and the local sheriff.

Arnold’s duplicity and traitorous actions against the Colonies are well documented and have afforded him the permanent title of “traitor,” an insult commonly used from school-aged children to senior citizens since his despicable actions in 1780 when he attempted to surrender West Point to the British Army. It is believed while Arnold was betraying West Point, he gained the trust of various officers using Masonic modes of recognition to gain their trust.

Brother Benjamin Franklin later wrote that “Judas sold only one man, Arnold three million.” In his hometown of Norwich, the words “the traitor” were scrawled next to his record of birth and all the family gravestones were destroyed with the exception of his mother’s.

After his exile in Canada, Benedict Arnold loaned money to British loyalists and fellow Freemasons, fully understanding he would never be paid back. His actions led Hiram Lodge No. 1 to remove all mention of his name from their records. Later, Solomon Lodge No. 1 in Poughkeepsie, New York,  passed a resolution, stating “Ordered that the Name of Benedict Arnold be considered as obliterated from the Minutes of this Lodge, a Traitor.” Arnold visited Solomon No. 1 on June 12, 1771, but his signature in the visitor’s records were later crossed out with a drawing of a finger pointing to the word “Traitor.”

His unpopularity spread to England where he lived out his last years. After his death in 1801, “the bones” of Benedict Arnold were entombed in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in Battersea, London. If one was to visit the unpopular tourist attraction, the plain marker without a Masonic symbol resides in a church basement next to a fish tank.

For more information on Benedict Arnold, read this informative post from Freemasons for Dummies.


Written by Wor. Bro. Ronald J. Seifried, DSA
Trustee Chairman and Historian, Jephtha Lodge No. 494 F. & A.M.
Area 1 Historian, Nassau and Suffolk Masonic Districts
Co-Editor, Craftsmen Online NY Masonic History column
32° Scottish Rite,  Valley of Rockville Centre
Companion of Asharokan Chapter No. 288, Royal Arch Masons
Member of Suffolk Council No. 76, Cryptic Masons
Author, “Long Island Freemasons,” Arcadia Publishing, 2020

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