“I would like to thank the press for attending this conference. I will be making a brief statement, then I will be open for a few questions.
“As you all know, I am a patriot who has fought and bled for our great nation, and the President knows full well the service I have delivered to him and to the Army. So I was appalled to be accused as some kind of traitor.
“This nation knows that I have been three times wounded in battle, and my wife died while I was in service to the nation. I have paid out of my own pocket to supply my men with provisions and meet their needs, for which I was never recompensed by Congress. I earned my promotions through daring and courage on the field; though the President more than once praised my valor and victories, he himself has seldom enjoyed such success as a commander, save when my work made it possible, and he has had the good fortune to escape suffering the sorts of injuries which I and men like me have borne without complaint.
“It is plain to many men like me, that this war we now fight is hopeless, and our best course, likely our only hope, is to plead for negotiation to end the senseless violence which presently tears at our nation.
“Thank you. I will now accept a few questions from the press.”
‘General Arnold, I’m Tory London from the New York Times, and thank you for your service. Do you think President Jefferson is provoking this new war with Tripoli to take attention away from his mismanagement of the economy?’
“I don’t want to speculate about his motives, but you know, it’s something you do have to think about, the possibility that he is sending armed men into foreign countries because he just can’t get over the fact that we really never won that war against Britain.”
‘General Arnold, Forbes Kerry from the Boston Globe…’
“We’re old friends, Forbes, please call me Benedict-“
‘Thank you, Benedict. Some pamphleteers are trying to justify the use of military force by saying we should attack pirates in their lands, rather than wait for them to come over here and attack us. How would you answer them?’
[shakes head] “That’s just sad, Forbes. ‘Pirates’ is a derogatory term used to marginalize complaints from people who have grievances against the American government, it has no place in civilized debate. And anyone with intelligence would know better than to listen to someone who is not established in the press as you are. I mean, these pamphleteers are just a bunch of know-nothings who like to spout off their ignorance.”
‘General Arnold, I’m Tom Paine and I’m one of those pamphleteers you just insulted. What about men of great standing who publish pamphlets?’
“I know no such ‘great men’. “
‘What about James Otis?’
“Never heard of him”
[snorts] “A loud drunkard”
“A fat, old drunkard who chases women”
“A poor horseman with delusions of grandeur”
“A poor statesman with delusions of grandeur”
‘OK, be that way. What about you trying to sell West Point to the British in 1780?’
“Old news, I did what was necessary to oppose that senseless war.”
‘So you’re not a traitor?’
“How dare you question my patriotism, just because I did not support the war! This conference is over!“
[ stomps away from podium]