ARNOLD, BENEDICT, Major General, Continental Army, Traitor. Document signed ("B Arnold MGenl") and subscribed , Philadelphia, 17 September 1778. 1 page, folio, 311 x 186 mm. (126 x 76 in.), minor browning, neatly tipped to a larger sheet, verso docketed "Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America."
A FUTURE TRAITOR CERTIFIES AN OATH OF ALLEGIANCE FOR A FELLOW OFFICER
The oath, written in an unidentified hand, reads: "I Edward Hand Brigadier Genl. do acknowledge the United States, to be free, Independent & Sovereign States, snd declare that the People thereof owe no Allegiance or Obedience to George the third, King of Great Britain, and I renounce, refuse and abjure any Allegiance or Orbedience to him; & I do swear that I will to the Utmost of my Power, support, maintain & defend the said United States against the said George the third his Heirs and Successors, and his or their Abettors, Assistants & Adherents and will serve the said United States in the Office of Brigadier Genl. which I now hold, with Fidelity, according to the best of my Skill & Understanding." At the bottom, Arnold, commanding the American garrison at Philadelphia, certifies: "Sworn before me, Philada. Sepr 17th 1778."
On 3 February 1778 the Continental Congress resolved that all civil and military officers should affirm an oath "of allegiance and abjuration," worded as in the present example. Printed forms for this purpose were prepared, but in cases where the form was not available, handwritten documents were substituted. Washington took the oath at Valley Forge on 12 May (his oath, subscribed by Lord Sterling, is illustrated as the frontispiece to Fitzpatrick, vol.11). Edward Hand (1744-1802), an Irish-born Pennsylvanian, served with distinction in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Princeton and on the frontier; in November 1778 he became commander at Albany. Arnold was at this date senior commander at Philadelphia, and would have been the logical subscriber to Hand's formal oath of allegiance.