Essential question

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Benedict Arnold

You are a colonist living in New Haven, Connecticut. You are asked to write a letter to General George Washington defending or accusing Benedict Arnold of treason. You will learn about his life and use events from it to support your statement.

  • Essential question: Was Benedict Arnold really a spy or was he a victim of bad circumstances?
    When someone mentions the name of Benedict Arnold you first think of a traitor. Author James Kirby Martin points out that Arnold's life, could not be seen in just black and white, right or wrong. He was one of the most successful generals of the time. "His treason was shocking because of the magnitude of his contributions to the Revolutionary effort," writes Kirby, a professor at the University of Houston. Arnold always felt underappreciated and misunderstood. He was not a political man which led to many fights and misunderstanding that might have been avoided. Use the questions below to help you discover what kind of man Benedict Arnold really was.

1. What kind of man was Benedict Arnold?
2. Was he a good soldier?
3. How did the Congress treat Benedict Arnold? Was this treatment fair?
4. Did he help the cause of the American Revolution?
5. How did Benedict Arnold feel about the Congress?
6. Did his new wife help him in his treacherous role?
7. Were his complaints about Congress legitimate?

  • Who are you?

1. What is your name? Give yourself a typical colonial name.
2. Are you a local citizen or a member of the army?
3. Are you a friend of Benedict Arnold's? Did you witness anything first hand?
4. Does the fact the George Washington tried to help him make you feel as though he is innocent by circumstances?

  • Choose your side. Think about what you need to do to gather the information.
    How will you decide what information to write down in your notebook?
    Who will you go to if you're having problems?
    Collect the information to answer your questions. You will use the following resources:


Liberty Archive

Fact Monster--Benedict Arnold

People of the American Revolution

Spy Times

Benedict Arnold, The Traitor that Saved America


Spy Letters

The Engima of Benedict Arnold

Social Studies for Kids

History Whiz

1. Keeping the essential question in mind, think about how you could synthesize this information with what you have learned about Benedict Arnold.
2. Write a rough draft of your letter. Be sure to back up your stance with facts not opinions.
Use good mechanics and grammar. Add colorful details. Vary your sentence structure.
3. Peer-edit your work.
4. Publish your piece by typing.

  • Ask yourself the following questions before you turn your letter in.

1. Did you use all the project resources on your own?
2. Did you use your questions to learn about Benedict Arnold?
3. Did you clearly state your opinion and back them up with facts about Benedict Arnold?
4. Did you use good mechanics and grammar? Did you add colorful adjectives? Did you vary your sentence structure?


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