Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Arnold, Benedict (governor)

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ARNOLD, Benedict, governor of Rhode Island, b. in England, 21 Dec., 1615; d. 20 June, 1678. He lived for some time in Providence, and in 1637 was one of thirteen who signed a compact agreeing to subject themselves to any agreements made by a majority of the masters of families. In 1645 his knowledge of the native tongues gained him the office of messenger to negotiate with the Indians, and on one occasion they accused him of misrepresentation. In 1653 he moved to Newport, and in 1654 was elected assistant for that town. In 1657 he was one of the purchasers of the island of Conanicut. On 19 May, 1657, Roger Williams having retired from the presidency of the colony, Arnold was elected to the office, and he was again assistant in 1660. On 22 May, 1662, he was again elected president, and under the royal charter given in 1663 he was the first governor of the colony. To this office he was reëlected in May, 1664, and in 1669, 1677, and 1678. Gov. Arnold was instrumental in bringing about the reconciliation and union of the two colonies of Rhode Island and Providence plantations.