This Day in History – October 2

Another Benedict Arnold Hanged

In 1780 a thirty-one year old British major John Andre was hanged by military forces in Tappan, New York for being an accomplice to one Benedict Arnold. Andre was captured by 3 of our patriots John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart on September 23 and then they found some interesting letters in his boot that revealed Andre was returning from a secret meeting with U.S. General Benedict Arnold at the time. Benedict was the chief commander at West Point and offered to surrender the Hudson River Fort to the British for a bribe of 20,000 franks. When Arnold heard of Andre’s capture he fled to the British warship Vulture and joined the British in their fight against us. After he was sentenced to death on September 29 Andre was allowed to write a letter to his commander, General Henry Clinton. During this time he also wrote a letter to George Washington and asked that his life be spared and to be killed by firing squad instead of hanging. At that time, a firing squad was a more gentlemanly death than to be hanged, and that by saying this in the letter Andre wrote George Washington. Washington found great respect in him for his bravery and tried to find a way to spare his life.  So George Washington wrote a letter to Clinton saying that he believed that Andre committed a lesser crime than Arnold so he said he would exchange Andre for Arnold, so that Arnold could be hanged instead. When Washington did not receive his reply by October 2, he wrote in his “general order” of that day and stated “Major Andre General to the British Army ought to be considered as a spy from the enemy and that agreeable to the law and usage of it’s their opinion he ought to suffer death and at five o’clock that afternoon the commander-in-chief directed the execution of John Andre.

Senior Staff Writer

Pennie Hull

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