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MARRIAGE OF ARNOLD.
acquitted by the committee of Congress. He was sacrificed, he said, to avoid a breach with Pennsylvania. In a letter to Washington, he charged it all to the hostility of President Reed, who, he affirmed, had by his address kept the affair in suspense for two months, and at last obtained the resolution of Congress directing the court-martial. He urged Washington to appoint a speedy day for the trial, that he might not linger under the odium of an unjust public accusation. "I have no doubt of obtaining justice from a court-martial," writes he, 66 as every officer in the army must feel himself injured by the cruel and unprecedented treatment I have met with.. When your Excellency considers my sufferings, and the cruel situation I am in, your own humanity and feeling as a soldier will render everything I can say further on the subject unnecessary."
It was doubtless soothing to his irritated pride, that the woman on whom he had placed his affections remained true to him; for his marriage with Miss Shippen took place just five days after the mortifying vote of Congress.
Washington sympathized with Arnold's impatience, and appointed the 1st of May for the trial, but it was repeatedly postponed; first, at the request of the Pennsylvania council, to allow time for the arrival of witnesses from the South; afterwards, in consequence of threatening movements of the enemy, which obliged every officer to be at his post. Arnold, in the mean time, continued to reside at Philadelphia, holding his com
mission in the army, but filling no public office; getting deeper and deeper in debt, and becoming more and more unpopular.
Having once been attacked in the street in the course of some popular tumult, he affected to consider his life in danger, and applied to Congress for a guard of Continental soldiers, “as no protection was to be expected from the authority of the State for an honest man."
He was told in reply that his application ought to have been made to the executive authority of Pennsylvania; "in whose disposition to protect every honest citizen, Congress had full confidence, and highly disapproved the insinuation of every individual to the contrary."
For months, Arnold remained in this anxious and irritated state. IIis situation, he said, was cruel. His character would continue to suffer until he should be acquitted by a court-martial, and he would be effectually prevented from joining the army, which he wished to do as soon as his wounds would permit, that he might render the country every service in his power in this critical time. "For though I have been ungratefully treated, adds he, "I do not consider it as from my countrymen in general, but from a set of men, who, void of principle, are governed entirely by private interest."
At length, when the campaign was over, and the army had gone into winter quarters, the longdelayed court-martial was assembled at Morristown. Of the eight charges originally advanced against Arnold by the Pennsylvania council, four
only came under cognizance of the court. Of two of these he was entirely acquitted. The remaining two were —
TRIAL BY COURT-MARTIAL.
First. That while in the camp at Valley Forge, he, without the knowledge of the commander-in-chief, or the sanction of the State government, had granted a written permission for a vessel belonging to disaffected persons, to proceed from the port of Philadephia, then in possession of the enemy, to any port of the United States.
Second. That, availing himself of his official authority, he had appropriated the public wagons of Pennsylvania, when called forth on a special emergency, to the transportation of private property, and that of persons who voluntarily remained with the enemy, and were deemed disaffected to the interests and independence of America.
In regard to the first of these charges, Arnold alleged that the person who applied for the protection of the vessel, had taken the oath of allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania required by the laws; that he was not residing in Philadelphia at the time, but had applied on behalf of himself and a company, and that the intentions of that person and his associates with regard to the vessel and cargo appeared to be upright.
As to his having granted the permission without the knowledge of the commander-in-chief, though present in the camp, Arnold alleged that it was customary in the army for general officers to grant passes and protections to inhabitants of the United States, friendly to the same, and that the protection was given in the present instance,
to prevent the soldiery from plundering the vessel and cargo, coming from a place in possession of the enemy, until the proper authority could take cognizance of the matter.
In regard to the second charge, while it was proved that under his authority wagons had been so used, it was allowed in extenuation, that they had been employed at private expense, and without any design to defraud the public or impede the military service.
In regard to both charges, nothing fraudulent on the part of Arnold was proved, but the transactions involved in the first were pronounced irregular, and contrary to one of the articles of war; and in the second, imprudent and reprehensible, considering the high station occupied by the general at the time; and the court sentenced him to be reprimanded by the commander-inchief. The sentence was confirmed by Congress on the 12th of February (1780).
We have forborne to go into all the particulars of this trial, but we have considered them attentively, discharging from our minds, as much as possible, all impressions produced by Arnold's subsequent history, and we are surprised to find, after the hostility manifested against him by the council of Pennsylvania, and their extraordinary measure to possess the public mind against him, how venial are the trespasses of which he stood convicted.
He may have given personal offense by his assuming vanity; by the arrogant exercise of his military authority; he may have displeased by
his ostentation, and awakened distrust by his speculating propensities; but as yet his patriotism was unquestioned. No turpitude had been proved against him; his brilliant exploits shed. a splendor round his name, and he appeared before the public, a soldier crippled in their service. All these should have pleaded in his favor, should have produced indulgence of his errors, and mitigated that animosity which he always contended had been the cause of his ruin.
The reprimand adjudged by the court-martial was administered by Washington with consummate delicacy. The following were his words, as repeated by M. de Marbois, the French secretary of legation:
"Our profession is the chastest of all: even the shadow of a fault tarnishes the lustre of our finest achievements. The least inadvertence may rob us of the public favor, so hard to be acquired. I reprehend you for having forgotten, that, in proportion as you had rendered yourself formidable to our enemies, you should have been guarded and temperate in your deportment towards your fellow-citizens.
"Exhibit anew those noble qualities which have placed you on the list of our most valued commanders. I will myself furnish you, as far as it may be in my power, with opportunities of regaining the esteem of your country."
A reprimand so mild and considerate, accompanied by such high eulogiums and generous promises, might have had a favorable effect upon Arnold, had he been in a different frame of mind; but he had persuaded himself that the court would