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Item 405 - Benedict Arnold Catalog 471 (Mar 2016)

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Description


ALS signed “B. Arnold,” one page both sides, 8 x 12.75, April 30, 1787. Letter to James Hayt in New Brunswick. In part: “I have wrote you several times since my arrival in England, but to my great astonishment, & mortification, I have never read a line from you or any of my other friends at St. Johns since I left it, nor do I know to what cause to impute your Silence. From the assurances which your brother gave me, that he did not doubt he should be able to collect Six or Eight hundred pounds in Bill in Debt I have for some time been in expectation of Receiving a handsome remittance from Mr. Henry, instead of which I have lately been presented with several of his Draufts,—With the property which I left in his hands I cannot consider it possible that he would be under a necessity of drawing on me, and why he has done it I cannot conceive. I can only conjecture and am much alarmed, lest he should take this advantage of my absence, to abuse his trust, and embezzle my property.—I wrote you and your Brother but I am on this subject and inclosed a power of Atty to him should my fears Respectg. Mr. Henry be realized. I beg you will both put yourselves to prevent his Injuring me, and take the Charge of my Affairs into your own hands, for which purpose, this letter, should my power of Atty to your Brother have miscarried, shall be your sufficient authority, & I make no doubt will answer the purpose until my Arrival at St. Johns.—The ship which I have chartered is near loaded. I expect to Embark in Eight or nine days, for St. Johns, with my family, I took the liberty in several former letters to request you would be so good as to Assist Mr. Henry in procuring me the largest & best house you could get for their reception, which I now repeat, lest those letters should have miscarried, I wish the House to be ready by the Middle of June, & engaged for 16 to 18 months, by the end of which time I hope to have one built,—I shall bring out a very general & handsome assortment of goods, & have some proposals to make to you when I come out which may be to our mutual advantage.” In fine condition, with small repairs to splits along folds and seal-related paper loss.

After moving to Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1785, Arnold established a business doing trade with the West Indies. He soon became thoroughly disliked by both Loyalists and Americans in the area due to a series of bad business deals and legal battles, filing frequent lawsuits over petty debts. In one instance after his return from England, Arnold won a slander suit against a former business partner—a man by the name of Munson Hayt, presumably one of James’s relatives—and the angry townspeople burned him in effigy in front of his house as his family watched. Benedict Arnold autograph letters are scarce and extremely desirable, especially those of such great length having to do with his poor reputation in North America. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

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