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    Gould on Benedict Arnold: "He's so avaricious, he'd sell his country for money..."

    [Benedict Arnold] Captain Benjamin Gould Autograph Manuscript (Unsigned) about Benedict Arnold's Command of West Point and the Capture of British Gen. John André. Three pages, 7.75" x 9.5", n.p., circa 1781. This fascinating account contains firsthand information about events which exposed the treasonous plans of Benedict Arnold. Gould, an American veteran of several Revolutionary War battles, begins his account "In the year 1780" when he was sent "to reinforce the garrison at West Point." From the time he arrived, Gould was suspicious of Benedict Arnold's leadership at West Point: "What I saw on the Point, I thought that all was not right. The two sentinels were [to] load their guns, and when relieved, to change them with the sentry that relieved them, so that the guard would all have strange pieces, and we should, in case of attack be thrown into the utmost confusion, our guns being of different bores, and our men having had their cartridges made to suit them." Gould's impressions were correct. Arnold had become the American commander of the fort at West Point in July 1780. Before doing so, he had secretly agreed to hand over the American fort to the British for £20,000. West Point had been chosen by the British because of it strategic importance: it would split the colonies in two.

    According to Gould's manuscript, others at West Point were also suspicious of Arnold and wanted to notify Gen. George Washington, but they feared for their safety: "We could not find a safe opportunity to send to Gen. Washington, and he being expected on the Point in a few days, we thought best to wait until he should arrive. No doubt Arnold's spies had watched us."

    One day after having tea with Arnold, Gould was given a task (probably to keep him busy and away from the fort) to construct a storage building several miles down the river. From that point in the manuscript, Gould's account quickly goes through the events that led to the capture and hanging of British Gen. André (André's arrival on the British ship Vulture and clandestine meeting in the woods with Arnold on September 21 and 22; André's capture by Americans; the investigation convened by Gen. George Washington; André's death by hanging; Benedict Arnold's fleeing to the British): "That day while we were at work, he [Arnold] went on board a British ship that lay in the river, and André was brought on the Point. Gen. Washington arrived also that night. . . [André] appeared much of a gentleman, and conversed freely with us. . . We did not see André executed."

    In the closing paragraphs of this manuscript, Gould was "put in mind of what my father told me when Arnold was appointed Colonel to go to Canada. He said, 'I'm sorry for it.' I asked him why. 'Because,' said he, 'he's so avaricious he'd sell his country for money.'" This important document about one of America's most notorious traitors is lightly age-toned with some mild staining; boldly penned and in fine condition.

    Page four of this manuscript contains an interesting account of the arrest of John Gould (possibly an ancestor of Benjamin Gould) on August 19, 1686, "for uttering wicked & treasonable language." The purpose of this account seems to have been aimed at the unpopular Edmund Andros, Governor of the Dominion of New England in 1686. It ends sourly, "Such was the administration of Andros."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    17th-18th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,380

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