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Honoring Providence
The task of communicating to the army the news of America’s most disloyal general fell to George Washington’s most loyal general, Nathanael ...

Honoring Providence

The task of communicating to the army the news of America’s most disloyal general fell to George Washington’s most loyal general, Nathanael Greene.

“TREASON of the blackest dye was yesterday discovered,” Greene began his proclamation to the army. “General Arnold, who commanded at West Point, lost to every sense of honor, of private and public obligation, was about to deliver up that important post into the hands of the enemy.”

He immediately inserted the good news: Arnold had failed. “Such an event must have given the American cause a dangerous, if not a fatal wound; but the treason has been timely discovered, to prevent the fatal misfortune,” Greene informed the troops.

Greene knew the treason would send shock waves through the army like an earthquake. To prevent fissures of fear, he decided to uplift the army’s spirits by pointing them skyward. He appealed to their view of heaven and God’s role as commander-in-chief on earth. If God was the Author of liberty, he was also the Protector against forces opposing liberty.

“The providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection. At the same time that the treason is to be regretted, the general [Washington] cannot help congratulating the army on the happy discovery.”

Greene then used the proclamation to warn the army against aftershocks by the enemy. He had no way of knowing at the time if Arnold was the only American general, officer, or soldier involved in the plot.

“Our enemies, despairing of carrying their point by force, are practicing every base art to effect by bribery and corruption what they cannot accomplish in a manly way. Great honor is due to the American army that this is the first instance of treason of the kind, where many were to be expected from the nature of the dispute,” Greene continued.

He went on to report that although Arnold had escaped, his accomplice had not. “His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, has arrived at West Point from Hartford, and is no doubt taking proper measures to unravel fully so hellish a plot,” Greene concluded.

Once again God’s protection had intervened in the Revolution. If Arnold’s accomplice had escaped, Arnold might have succeeded in helping the British seize West Point. He also might have captured Washington. Had he been successful, Arnold would have received a royal title, such as duke. George Washington would have been hanged as a traitor. But because of Providence’s protection, the seismic tremors created by Benedict Arnold’s act of treason were not catastrophic.


God, thank you for your marvelous ways, for fighting on behalf of justice and honesty.

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory”

(Deuteronomy 20:4).

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