Located on 380 Washington Street
This site is the John Olmstead home lot, later the Samuel Lathrop home lot, inherited by Daniel Lathrop, Samuel’s son, in 1774. The original home was burned in February 1745. Recent restoration disclosed charred lumber, indicating that the original house forms part of the present structure.
Dr. Daniel Lathrop was the son of Thomas and Lydia (Abel) Lathrop. He was born in 1712 and 1744 married Jerusha Talcott, daughter of Governor Joseph and Abigail (Clarke) Talcott of Hartford. In 1733 he graduated from Yale and went to Europe to study “Chirurgery,” but started the first apothecary shop between Boston and New York. Dr. Daniel died in 1782.
A Note on Benedict Arnold
In his youth, Benedict Arnold served five years of indentured servitude and lived in this house. Benedict Arnold came from an excellent family background. His grandfather was Governor of Rhode Island. His mother was the daughter of a prominent citizen, and her epitaph states that “she was a pattern of piety, patience, and virtue.”
Many tales have circulated about Arnold’s wild, undisciplined childhood but virtually none is true. His father’s health problems caused young Benedict to leave school and become and apprentice to his mother’s cousins, Daniel and Joshua Lathrop. Those two Norwichites taught him the apothecary’s trade and then helped set him up in business in New Haven, Connecticut. There, Arnold became a prosperous merchant, heavily involved in the West Indies trade.
The Revolution fostered Arnold’s remarkable talents as a daring commander on land and water. He fought courageously in Ticonderoga, Quebec, Lake Champlain, and at the pivotal battles of Saratoga. He repelled a British force at Danbury, Connecticut for which the Continental Congress finally named him a major general. George Washington praised Arnold and his fighting general.
Wounded seriously at Quebec and then again at Saratoga, and seeing how poorly Congress supported its army, Arnold started to doubt the merits of the patriotic cause. Problems with the local officials in Philadelphia during 1778, after Washington named him military governor there, added to his growing disillusionment. After a vicious public attack on his character, Arnold opened negotiations with the British. He believed the Revolution had lost its way and would collapse, and he hoped to lead the people in settling their differences with the Crown short of independence.
In September 1780, Arnold led attacks on Richmond, Virginia, and in September 1781 on New London, Connecticut. The massacre of American soldiers at Fort Griswold across the Thames River that day, as well as the burning of New London, further increased patriotic enmity toward Arnold. He was not at Fort Griswold but was in overall command of the troops and who attacked that bastion.
After the war, Arnold resumed his mercantile career, trading out of Canada and England. He never quite enjoyed the prosperity of his earlier years. Arnold died in London in June 1801, aged 60 years, his name, despite his invaluable service to the patriotic cause, to become synonymous with treason.
His remains are interred at St. Mary’s of Battersea Church in London with his wife, Margaret Shippen Arnold, and daughter, Sophia.
Text by Professor James Kirby Martin, author, historian, professor of history.