22
22
Arnold, Benedict, Continental General and Traitor
Estimate
12,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 7,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
22
Arnold, Benedict, Continental General and Traitor
Estimate
12,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 7,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York

Arnold, Benedict, Continental General and Traitor
Autograph letter signed ("B. Arnold"), one page, folio (13 x 8 3/8 in.; 330 x 210 mm), Watertown, Massachusetts, 4 March 1777, to Mrs. Henry Knox, enclosing a billet-doux for Elizabeth De Blois, integral address leaf; seal tear along center fold repaired, seal remnants, the entire document masterfully silked. Blue cloth folding-case, blue morocco spine.
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Catalogue Note

Arnold enamored. "I have taken the liberty of Incloseing a Letter for the Heavenly Miss Deblois, which by the favour of your delivering, with the Trunk of Gowns, &c, which Mrs. Colburn promis'd me to Send to your House, I hope she will make no objections against receiveing them," writes the love-smitten hero of Ticonderoga to Mrs. Henry Knox. Knox's wife was the former Lucy Flucker, the daughter of one of Boston's leading Tories, Thomas Flucker, last royal secretary of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. It was in February 1777 in Mrs. Knox's Cambridge drawing room that General Arnold was introduced to Boston society, and more importantly, to the "beautiful ... straight, tall, elegant" Tory belle, Elizabeth "Betsy" De Blois.

A widower for a little over a year,  the 36-year-old Arnold immediately fell headlong in love with the sixteen-year-old Betsy, and asked Mrs. Knox to present his case. Delighted with her role as matchmaker, Lucy Knox dutifully delivered Arnold's ardent billet-doux, along with a trunk of gowns and other lavish presents as a show of his affection and financial solidity. He hoped that Betsy would accept these gifts as well as his desire to court her. Until he heard back from Lucy, he would ""remain under the most anxious suspense," he wrote in romantic effusion, caused by "the fond anxiety, the glowing hopes, and chilling fears, that alternately possess the breast of ... your obedient and most humble servant."  Probably owing to the vast difference in age,  the "heavenly Miss DeBlois" rebuffed Arnold's several advances, refusing finally to answer his dramatic, passionate love letters. Betsy had many subsequent suitors, but never married. Having failed to win Betsy's favor, Arnold began courting blond, beautiful, and vivacious Margaret "Peggy" Shippen in the summer of 1778 to whom he also penned love letters, one of which he lifted practically verbatim from one to Betsy. Arnold wed Peggy in April 1779.

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

|
New York