Benedict Arnold: American history’s most heroic traitor


“Time Trial of Benedict Arnold,” the museum’s new theater program, opened on December 27 to rave reviews! The program explores the complexities of history by examining the case of Benedict Arnold, America’s best-known traitor.

But how does historical understanding develop over time? What happens between the facts of an historical event and the memories of history? And why do many people only know that Benedict Arnold was a traitor, while never hearing about his actions as a hero of the early Revolutionary War?


In “Time Trial of Benedict Arnold” the audience becomes the jury, hears Benedict Arnold’s side of the story, and deliberates on his contested legacy. Check out the video clip below to get a glimpse of our rehearsals, the show, and what people are saying about it. We hope you can make it to the museum to see the show, but if not, never fear, the Internet is here! In the next few months, we’ll be posting more information and a full video of the show. We also invite all the teachers out there to join the conversation about Benedict Arnold happening in the online teacher community run by our partner, Verizon Thinkfinity.

And Benedict Arnold is just the beginning! In the future, we’ll be putting other controversial historical figures on trial and asking visitors, “Why do we know what we know about history?”

“Time Trial of Benedict Arnold” runs Fridays and Saturdays at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:30pm, and 4:00pm through March.

Let us know what you think! What would you ask Benedict Arnold if you had the chance? Which other historical characters would you like to put on trial?

Susan Evans is a floor manager at the National Museum of American History.