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Interpreting the Evidence

Oath of Allegiance, United States of America, Benedict Arnold, May 30, 1778

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Revolution and New Nation (1754 - 1820s)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    American Revolution

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Oath of Allegiance, United States of America, Benedict Arnold, May 30, 1778 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Oath of allegiance to the United States of America, Major General Benedict Arnold, May 30, 1778
Historical Context
In 1780, near the present day Tappan Zee Bridge, a major spy drama unfolded, changing the course of the American Revolution. General Benedict Arnold secretly attempted to help the British capture the fort at West Point. He had grown resentful of the American Army for not rewarding him for his many military victories. On the night of September 21, Arnold gave British Major John Andre documents detailing the fortifications and troop strengths at West Point. As Andre headed towards the British lines with the documents tucked in his boot, he was captured near Tarrytown on September 23. If he had reached the British command in New York City with the information that Arnold had given him, the British would likely have taken the fort at West Point. West Point was crucial to controlling the Hudson River, a British capture could have changed the outcome of the entire war.
Thirty year old Andre was hanged as a spy on October 2, 1780. Benedict Arnold escaped to New York City, eventually commanding British troops for the remainder of the war. He died in London in 1801
Essential Question
Who was Benedict Arnold and what role did he play in the Revolutionary War?
Check for Understanding
At this point in time, who is Benedict Arnold siding with in the war? How do you know?
Historical Challenges
Write a journal entry from Arnold’s point of view describing the day that he signed this oath.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art- Create a picture depicting Arnold signing the oath.
Writing- Write a poem about Benedict Arnold signing the oath of allegiance.