Peggy Shippen

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Margaret "Peggy" Shippen Arnold
Peggy Shippen and daughter.jpg
Peggy Shippen with one of her children.
Margaret Shippen

(1760-07-11)July 11, 1760
DiedAugust 24, 1804(1804-08-24) (aged 44)
Resting placeSt. Mary's Church in Battersea
Benedict Arnold
(m. 1779; died 1803)
RelativesSee Shippen family

Margaret "Peggy" Shippen Arnold was an American woman from Philadelphia. She helped Benedict Arnold go to the British army during the American Revolutionary War.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and family[change | change source]

Peggy was born in 1760 to Edward Shippen IV and his wife, Margaret Francis.[1] The Shippens were a powerful family in Philadelphia.[2]

American Revolutionary War[change | change source]

During the American Revolutionary War, Shippen's parents tried to stay neutral. Her older sister Elizabeth married a colonel in the Continental Army. When the British Army occupied Philadelphia, Peggy Shippen made friends with Major John André. They wrote letters back and forth to each other after André left Philadelphia.[2]

In 1779, when she was nineteen years old, Peggy Shippen married Benedict Arnold, a general in the Continental Army. Later, Arnold decided to defect, or change sides, and fight for the British instead. Historians do not know whether Peggy Shippen tried to get him to make this decision, but she helped him after he did. Shippen helped him meet with John André and then sent letters between the two men using codes.[2] Shippen helped Arnold become the commander of West Point so he could trade it to the British Army.[3]

When Arnold was caught, Peggy helped him escape and destroyed evidence. When George Washington and Alexander Hamilton showed up at West Point, she pretended that she had not known about Arnold's plan. She pretended to be surprised and upset. She pretended so well that both Washington and Hamilton believed her.[3]

Peggy was not put in jail, but the city council of Philadelphia told Shippen she could not live there any more. She went to New York City, which the British Army held at the time.[2]

After the war[change | change source]

After the British Army surrendered at the Battle of Yorktown, Benedict Arnold and Peggy moved to London. The king and queen liked Peggy. King George III gave her £350 for helping the army and Queen Charlotte gave her a yearly payment of £100.[2] Peggy Shippen went back to Philadelphia for a visit in 1791. People there did not like her, and some even protested. When Benedict Arnold died in 1803, Shippen found she owed money to many people. Peggy Shippen died in 1804.[2]

In popular culture[change | change source]

Shippen is a character in the television series Turn. In the series, she has a romance with John André.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Life Story: Margaret "Peggy" Shippen Arnold (1760–1803)". New York Historical Society. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Peggy Shippen". American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Victoria Cooney (2013). "Love and the Revolution". Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Vol. 34, no. 5. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  4. Nathaniel Philbrick (2016). "Why Benedict Arnold Turned Traitor Against the American Revolution". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved July 2, 2021. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  5. Jayme Deerwester (August 13, 2017). "'Turn: Washington's Spies' finale: What became of all the characters?". USA Today. Retrieved July 2, 2021.