Born in 1741, the son of a wealthy Connecticut widow and her second husband, Benedict Arnold was an early Patriot. Living in New Haven, Connecticut during the Boston Massacre of 1770, he was said to have exclaimed:
Are all the Americans asleep and tamely giving up their liberties?
As a militia captain, marching with his men to Boston to render whatever aid he could, he thought about one of the colonists’ biggest needs: cannon with which to force the British out of Boston. He knew where such cannon existed: at the British-held Ft. Ticonderoga. (Follow this link to view 32 “stereoscopic views” of the fort’s ruins and the surrounding area, courtesy New York Public Library's digital collection.)
Convincing the Massachusetts Committee of Safety to make him a Colonel and grant him permission to take the fort, Arnold went to New York. It wasn’t just the fort that Arnold wanted to take, however. The story is told he also wanted to take the command (and the glory) from men who were themselves planning a surprise attack on Ticonderoga: Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys.
Unimpressed with Arnold’s official papers, Allen was willing to share the fight but would not relinquish command. The Americans surprised the British who gave up the fort without a battle. It was May 10, 1775.
When Arnold returned to Massachusetts, he turned in his expenses for the trip to New York. Legislators carefully looked over his claim and accused him of padding the bill. It amounted to $60,000 in today’s money.
It was not the last time people who controlled the purse strings would second-guess Arnold’s expenses.