Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Hero, A Villain

The state of TIAH

September 19th, 2006

Alternate Historian's Note: In honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, use this website to translate whatever you need to pirate talk - harr, mateys!

in 1777, rebel General Benedict Arnold holds his tongue rather than antagonize his superior, General Horatio Gates, as British forces attack the Americans at Freeman's Farm. Arnold had suggested a plan of attack that Gates considered foolhardy, sending their troops to attack the British center column while using riflemen on their right flank. Instead, Gates held the colonial forces in one spot, and the British cut them to pieces. Gates finally ordered a withdrawal after it was obvious that the British had won the day. Arnold sent a rather scathing report of the situation to the Continental Congress, where it was agreed that Gates had acted foolishly. The Congress stripped Gates of his command and elevated Arnold to the position he had desired all along, command of his own troops. Benedict Arnold's name soon became synonymous with victory – the brilliant general was the colonials' greatest asset, and General George Washington called him “the mighty sword of our freedom.” After the war's end in 1781, General Arnold entered politics and was elected governor of Connecticut, and then its senator. He ran for the presidency once, in 1804, but narrowly lost to Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. His name will always be remembered as that of a true patriot.

in 1827, hotheaded frontiersman Jim Bowie stabs a banker to death in Alexandria, Louisiana, and is promptly arrested for murder. Bowie and his brother, Rezin, had been trouble ever since their family had come west from Kentucky, and officials in Alexandria were itching to put him away for something. This was the first of his many brawls to turn lethal, and charges were brought against him immediately. During the hasty trial, his surly attitude, combined with his unsavory reputation as an illegal slave-trader and land speculator, convinced the jury that he was a character that needed to be put down for the good of the community, and he was sentenced to be hung. His brother tried to arrange a jail-break for him, but was captured and jailed, himself. The judge presiding at the hanging, who had known the Bowie family, said, “If only the young man had directed his energies towards more wholesome pursuits, he might have been a man of worth.”

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