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Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London

On September 6, 1781, Connecticut native Benedict Arnold and a force of 1,600 British soldiers and loyalists took Fort Griswold and burnt New London to the ground. The brutality of the invasion galvanized the new nation, and “Remember New London!” would become a rallying cry for troops under General Lafayette.

In Homegrown Terror, author Eric D. Lehman, chronicles the events leading up to the attack and highlights this key transformation in Arnold—the point where he went from betraying his comrades to massacring his neighbors and destroying their homes. This defining incident forever marked him as a symbol of evil, turning an antiheroic story about weakness of character and missed opportunity into one about the nature of treachery itself. Homegrown Terror draws upon a variety of perspectives, from the traitor himself to his former comrades like Jonathan Trumbull and Silas Deane, to the murdered Colonel Ledyard. Rethinking Benedict Arnold through the lens of this terrible episode, Lehman sheds light on the ethics of the dawning nation, and the way colonial America responded to betrayal and terror.

Eric D. Lehman teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Bridgeport and his essays, reviews, poems, and stories have been published in dozens of journals and magazines. His dozen books include A History of Connecticut Food, Literary Connecticut, A History of Connecticut Wine: Vineyard in Your Backyard, Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City, Hamden: Tales from the Sleeping Giant, Insiders’ Guide to Connecticut, The Foundation of Summer, Connecticut Town Greens: History of the State’s Common Centers, and Afoot in Connecticut: Journeys in Natural History, nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His revolutionary history Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London was a finalist in two categories of the Indie Book Awards.

This presentation is free and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be available and the author will be selling and signing books following the presentation. 

This event is brought to you in partnership by: The Norwich Historical Society, Leffingwell House Museum and Otis Library.