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Hylander Talk Brings Benedict Arnold to Life

Aug 01, 2017 12:57PM ● By David Dunbar

Prof. Gary Hylander and COA Director Carolyn Roycroft

story & photo by Dave Dunbar, Contributing Writer

Money.  Women.  Power.

Three things that eventually brought down Benedict Arnold, the famous traitor from the American Revolution.  So said Professor Gary Hylander, who came to the Bellingham Senior Center recently to kick off a series of historical talks.

Arnold, who Hylander says “liked to settle things with his fists,” rose up the ranks to become a military commander under General George Washington. But Arnold wanted more--more power, more money. Those came with the third influence on his behavior: a woman.

His second wife, Peggy Shippen, who had British connections of her own, encouraged Arnold to switch sides and join the British.  He did, and gained both money and power.

As commander of West Point, he intentionally neglected repairs and weakened the facility, to the benefit of the British.

In 1781, he moved to Great Britain, but later came back to North America to live in Canada, where he was quite unwelcome. Eventually, he moved back to London, where he died at age 60.

Professor Hylander is a story-teller.  He acts out parts in the historical stories he tells, injecting humor and revealing insights.

During his appearance at the Center for the hour-long talk, he was asked to compare politics now to politics then.  “The power of the bully pulpit has been replaced by the tweet,” he observed.  Hylander explained that when President Trump tweeted that his job was a lot harder than he thought it would be, this was exactly what the founders had wanted.

Hylander earned his PhD at Boston College.  His resume includes the NEH Foundation, Framingham State University, and Boston University.  He is currently an independent scholar who frequently presents at library forums, historical societies, and senior living centers.

The Director of the Bellingham Senior Center, Carolyn Roycroft, explained that Hylander was kicking off part one of the 2017-18 Learning and Cultural Program series. “We’re excited to bring to Bellingham 24 programs free of charge over the next 12 months,” explained Roycroft.

Four of those programs are Hylander’s as he presents “Famous Traitors from America’s Past.”  Besides Benedict Arnold, they include Tokyo Rose, Alger Hiss, and the Rosenbergs (Julius and Ethel).

To find out more, visit or call the Senior Center at (508) 966-0398.






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