Benedict Arnold, American Traitor

History of Treason

The name most closely associated with the word Treason is Benedict Arnold. It may surprise you to know that Arnold was never charged or convicted of treason. The only person sentenced on a Federal charge of treason was William Mumford. You’ve probably never heard of that name, and you may be surprised to learn what crime lead to his execution.

Treason is broadly defined as the crime of betraying one’s country by attempting to overthrow the government through waging war against the state or by materially aiding its enemies. The three key elements necessary for an offense to constitute treason include an obligation to the legal order, and the intent and action to violate that obligation.

Under the broad doctrines of treason under English law, treason is the intent by group force to prevent or overcome enforcement of a particular statute or other lawful order or to obtain any particular group benefit contrary to law.

When George Washington and other supporters of American independence first took up arms against his legitimate sovereign King George III, he became a rebel, guilty of high treason under English law.

Treason is the only crime specifically defined in the Constitution