What is Treason

Treason means an act of betrayal done to one’s nation or country that may affect a nation or its citizens. Most of the countries have strict penal laws against to punish those who are convicted of treason. Since time immemorial, treason has been considered as a serious crime that can put a nation into jeopardy. In earlier days, people found to be conspiring against a government, or a monarchial head were put to death. In some countries, the convicts were tortured to death. A person convicted of treason is termed as traitor. As per the rules, a person can be convicted of treason only when he/she is a citizen of the country.

The word treason first came into being in 1200 when it began to be used against person found guilty of subversive activities. The term was supposedly taken from a French word called traison that means to surrender. A treason activity may be major or minor depending upon the level of threat it poses for a nation. A major treason activity may result in the destabilization of the country, overthrow of an elected government, or serious economic/geo-political consequences for a country. It may also lead to loss of life and property of the nation. Treason laws can convict anyone found directly or indirectly involved in a treason activity. Activities such as spying or divulging of confidential information are also considered an act of treason.

Different nations have different treason laws. These laws may include various activities under treason. They also carry different degree of punishments against those convicted under treason. In United States, the treason laws are not extensively defined though their European counterparts have well-defined treason laws as they have been borrowed from the laws of the erstwhile monarchial system that prevailed for many centuries in Europe. In America, more number of people has been convicted under sedition laws than treason laws. Sedition laws include a vast array of activities including hate speeches against someone, or a group of people.

Treason laws are often misused by the government to prosecute those who may be having opposite political views. Anti-war activists are often tried under treason laws. There have been demands to change the laws that try anti-war activists under treason. In many banana republics, ruling parties have used these laws to maintain their political supremacy. Even in countries that have vibrant democracies, these laws are sometimes used for gaining personal advantage. Many social activist groups have campaigned since long for bringing in reformation in these laws. Ann Coulter, a noted social activist has written a popular book upon the need to reform treason laws.

Benedict Arnold in US history

The name, Benedict Arnold is considered to be another name for treason in the United States of America. The main reason for this is said to be the dual standards that he followed in the American Revolution when he cheated the Americans against the British. However, there is no doubt about the fact that he was a brave man throughout his career, and it is evidenced by the large number of battles that he fought. He is considered to be one of the shrewdest and bravest warriors of his time. In his early life, Benedict Arnold was a businessman who got into the military after the outbreak of American Revolution and served as the Major General of the Continental army. Though there is difference in opinion about the justification given for the changing of sides by Benedict Arnold, most Americans remember him as a traitor for this action of his against America.

He was born in an influential family on 14 July 1741. After his success in business, in the year 1775, Benedict Arnold joined the army following the unrest within the country. He is said to have played a major role in the success of the American army in the initial stages of the war. The injuries that he sustained in one of the battles led to him staying out of the picture for a few years. It would be worth mentioning here that in the later years, in spite of being more eligible owing to his seniority, Benedict Arnold was not given appropriate promotions and his juniors were considered for higher ranks. This is said to have been one of the main reasons as to why Arnold considered changing sides. It is also said that he spent a considerable amount of his own money in the war, which was not reimbursed by the administration. Owing to all these reasons and decreasing strength of the American army, Arnold decided to change sides and got into secret relationships with the British troops in 1779.

His secret negotiations with the British and the plot to surrender West Point to the British troops were exposed when one of his coded letters was found with the captured British Major, John Andre. However, Benedict Arnold fled to Britain before the American administration could take action against him for treason. After being commissioned the Brigadier General of British troops, he continued to live in England with his second wife and children. He got back into business in the following years and settled permanently in England. In 1801, he died in London at the age of 60.

Treason means an act of betrayal done to one’s nation or country that may affect a nation or its citizens. Most of the countries have strict penal laws against to punish those who are convicted of treason. Since time immemorial, treason has been considered as a serious crime that can put a nation into jeopardy.  In earlier days, people found to be conspiring against a government, or a monarchial head were put to death. In some countries, the convicts were tortured to death. A person convicted of treason is termed as traitor. As per the rules, a person can be convicted of treason only when he/she is a citizen of the country.

The word treason first came into being in 1200 when it began to be used against person found guilty of subversive activities. The term was supposedly taken from a French word called traison that means to surrender. A treason activity may be major or minor depending upon the level of threat it poses for a nation. A major treason activity may result in the destabilization of the country, overthrow of an elected government, or serious economic/geo-political consequences for a country. It may also lead to loss of life and property of the nation. Treason laws can convict anyone found directly or indirectly involved in a treason activity. Activities such as spying or divulging of confidential information are also considered an act of treason. 

Different nations have different treason laws. These laws may include various activities under treason. They also carry different degree of punishments against those convicted under treason. In United States, the treason laws are not extensively defined though their European counterparts have well-defined treason laws as they have been borrowed from the laws of the erstwhile monarchial system that prevailed for many centuries in Europe. In America, more number of people has been convicted under sedition laws than treason laws. Sedition laws include a vast array of activities including hate speeches against someone, or a group of people.   

Treason laws are often misused by the government to prosecute those who may be having opposite political views. Anti-war activists are often tried under treason laws. There have been demands to change the laws that try anti-war activists under treason. In many banana republics, ruling parties have used these laws to maintain their political supremacy. Even in countries that have vibrant democracies, these laws are sometimes used for gaining personal advantage.  Many social activist groups have campaigned since long for bringing in reformation in these laws. Ann Coulter, a noted social activist has written a popular book upon the need to reform treason laws.

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