[Source:] ... In the winter of 1782, Arnold moved to London with his second wife, Margaret "Peggy" Shippen Arnold. He was well received by King George III and the Tories, but frowned upon by the Whigs.

What were the key political differences between the Tories and the Whigs that caused one side to strongly favor Benedict Arnold, and the other side to strongly dislike him? Put another way, how were Benedict Arnold's actions viewed across the Tory-Whig political spectrum?

  • Well, you linked the articles for both, so what is the question? Do you not understand the Wikipedia articles? – Tyler Durden Mar 11 '15 at 3:21
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    1) Benedict Arnold was a notorious traitor to the Patriot cause; 2) The Tories were strong and vocal supporters of King George III and of all attempts to suppress the Patriots; and 3) the Whigs were strong and vocal opponents of King George III, and of all attempts to suppress the Patriots. What's unclear? – Pieter Geerkens Mar 11 '15 at 4:20
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    I'm going to vote to leave open. This is one of the core competencies of H:SE - OP can't really learn the answer from wikipedia because it relies on some underlying knowledge that isn't obvious. This is a case where we need to dramatically revise the question to clarify the confusion. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 11 '15 at 11:22
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    To put my comment another way, I think that OP is really asking who are Whigs and Tories? – Mark C. Wallace Mar 11 '15 at 14:19
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    @PieterGeerkens: Changed Arnold's "politics" to "actions" and how they were viewed across the Tory Whig political spectrum. – Tom Au Mar 16 '15 at 0:12

The UK Parliament at the time was run by the Tories, the Whigs being the opposition party. This meant that the war was essentially the Tories' baby. Meanwhile the opposition Whigs being were inclined to blame the entire situation on Tory misjudgment and incompetence. If the voting public came to believe the Whigs' view, then the Whigs might get to take over Parliament again.

The Tories' theory for how they would win the war was essentially that when the going got tough enough, the colonists would give up their silly grudge and come crawling back. So to them, a turncoat American general represented one small step for their strategy on the path to victory.

That not being a productive path for the opposition party, they'd be more inclined to treat him as a simple foreign traitor. So in effect, by going back to England Arnold made himself into a political football.

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    This is good and I agree with all that you have said. Unsaid however is the trend that connects the Whig party to the Glorious Revolution, the US revolution, and the formation of the loyal opposition in a Parliamentary system. I'm not sure whether all of that needs to be said, but I suspect some of it will illuminate OP's confusion. "Whig" and "Tory" are not merely arbitrary labels; they represented very distinct attitudes & agendas. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 11 '15 at 14:18
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    @MarkC.Wallace - Agreed. I thought seriously about adding some of that stuff, and then despaired at the amount of text it would add for only marginal further enlightenment on the specific question. I think (hope) its enough to point out that politics (and thus the personal ambitions of politicians) were involved, without getting into a ton of detail on specifically how those political alignments came to be. There are whole books (and lots of them) on that. Or he could ask another question. :-) – T.E.D. Mar 11 '15 at 15:04
  • ...to put this another way, there are in fact specific reasons why it would be the Tories who would take a hard line and the Whigs who would have preferred not to. But in any political system the opposition party will have to take up "opposition" to the ruling party to justify their existence, so I think that's sufficient to answer the question. – T.E.D. Mar 11 '15 at 15:16
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    @MarkC.Wallace, distinct attitudes? Jonathan Swift would disagree. :) – theUg Mar 11 '15 at 16:06
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    @MarkC.Wallace - You are right that they were blazing fairly new territory. But just because they didn't quite understand the universal principles behind what was motivating them yet doesn't change the fact that this is how the system they were operating under naturally works. – T.E.D. Mar 11 '15 at 16:10

The Whigs were left of center, and their sympathies were basically pro-American. Their great leader, William Pitt the Elder opined, "If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms, never! never! never!" The Whigs would have been hostile to a "true blue" royalist, and the fact that Arnold's actions were treacherous only made matters worse in their eyes.

The Tories were right of center, and their sympathies were pro-Crown. Hence, they welcomed the actions of Benedict Arnold as "beneficial" to their cause, whatever distaste some may have had for him personally.

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