In 1777 the British thought they had finally hit upon a strategy to crush the rebellion. They would divide the colonies. General John Burgoyne had presented a bold plan to the government in London. He proposed to invade New England from Canada marching down the Hudson River Valley. There British troops moving up from New Jersey and New York under the command of General Howe would join Burgoyne and effectively cut the colonies in two demoralizing the rebels and discouraging the French who were considering recognizing the independence of America.
In early summer Burgoyne set off with a professional army of over 7,000 men and many thousands of Indian allies. In a declaration Burgoyne threatened to unleash his Indian allies to pillage the Americans. When numerous atrocities were committed the vast majority of Americans in the path of the invading army resolved to join the rebellion thus swelling the troops and supplies of the Americans.
As the British proceeded south the resistance constantly stiffened and the swarm of snipers buzzed about the invaders like mosquitos snipping at their heels over and over. Burgoyne ignored these attacks and continued his advance to the south in a grand style. Meanwhile, miles to the south General Howe made a decision that would have a fateful consequence. Instead of marching to meet Burgoyne as he was supposed to do he decided to attack Philadelphia, the Rebel capital. Not aware of the change of plans Burgoyne continued to march south unconcerned that his supply lines were becoming longer and less secure since he thought he would receive everything he needed as soon as the reinforcements arrived.
Soon American ambushes began to defeat or capture any British forces sent out from the main body to forage or scout. The Americans began to burn and destroy all supplies, crops, and pasture in front of the British. Day by day General Burgoyne should have begun to realize he was marching into a trap. Finally in the first week of October 1777 the American Continental Army confronted the British north of Albany near the town of Saratoga. Ever the flamboyant firebrand Burgoyne though now surrounded and outnumbered trusted to his professional troops to overwhelm and defeat the citizen soldiers of the American Army. Without hesitation Burgoyne took the offensive and was soon smashing his way through the poorly trained militias that made up a major portion of the American Army. He seemed about to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat when one of America’s greatest heroes intervened.
When the British were about to break through General Benedict Arnold rallied his troops and against the orders of his commanding officer led a valiant counterattack which changed the course of the day and set the stage for the eventual surrender of the entire British army. This ultimately led to the recognition of America by France. And this led to the French fleet and army being present at Yorktown for the final victory which won the war.
General Arnold was grievously wounded at the battle of Saratoga and would never completely recover his health. In the reports of the battle the American commanding general Horatio Gates did not mention Arnold’s heroic deeds and took all the credit for the victory himself.
This slight festered in the heart of Arnold, and is believed to be the reason why he eventually betrayed the cause he had sworn to defend and earned a name forever synonymous with traitor in American History.
In 1777 a foreign army tried to divide America. The assault was met by minute men rushing from all directions leaving the comfort of their homes to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to save their home land. Today the forces of social welfare use class warfare to divide and conquer. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aide of their country! Now is the time for loyalty and patriotism not the time to be timid in the face of forces dedicated to the transformation of our Republic.
Exactly what is treason? It is the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance: the betrayal of a trust.
Benedict Arnold did that by trying to surrender his command: the fortress at West Point. He betrayed his trust and sought to bring about the defeat of his nation.
What should we call leaders who act against the interest of the nation? Who fight endless wars for peace that do not enhance our security or protect our interest? What should we call leaders who sacrifice our energy independence to a false religion of manmade global warming and squander our treasure pouring it into ideologically driven fringe technologies that fail time and time again? What should we call leaders who embrace our enemies and offend our friends? What should we call leaders who have cast off all fiscal restraint and are spending us and our great grandchildren into oblivion? What do we call leaders who ignore the limitations of the Constitution, expand the police and detention powers of the military, and actively work to put law abiding citizens under constant surveillance?
Historians always say that hindsight is 20/20 and looking back we can see that General Arnold believed he had a reason or at least an excuse for his treason.
Seeing as clearly in the present is always a more challenging assignment; however, it is our responsibility to act as the stewards of the heritage we have received. And as the current stewards of America’s precious heritage of limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom it is our duty to evaluate those who are sailing the ship of state over Niagara without even a barrel and ask ourselves why are they doing this? Why are those sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States doing everything conceivable to undermine the Republic and institute a centrally-planned collectivist democracy in its place?
The hidden secrets of the heart are impossible to discern. None of us can ever truly know the unspoken motives of another. Therefore we must base our interpretations of motive upon actions. We watch the bravest of the brave fight and die in wars already surrendered. We watch endless talk about the debt as the debt is constantly increased. We watch as thousands of new regulations are added every day binding the free citizens of America in a totalitarian nightmare of control. Though none dare call it by its real name, none dare point the finger of accusation for fear of being called a bigot, a racist, or intolerant, is it time to use the word none dare speak: treason?
As Thomas Paine once said, “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History and Political Science for Southside Virginia Community College. He has authored books, including The Constitution Failed and America Won the Vietnam War! Follow Robert at @Drrobertowens.