Several descendants of William Arnold became prominent in either the military or the civil affairs of the United States. A great-great grandson, named Benedict Arnold, became one of the great generals of the American Revolutionary War but was better known for his betrayal of the American revolutionary cause. Other well-known descendants include U.S. Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush; Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, American hero of the Great Lakes during the War of 1812 and his younger brother Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry who was sent across the Pacific in 1852 by President Millard Fillmore to open Japan to western trade; and Stephen Arnold Douglas who debated Abraham Lincoln in 1858 while vying for the Illinois Senate seat and winning the contest, but later losing to Lincoln in the 1860 presidential race. Stephen A. Douglas descends from both sons of William Arnold. Rhode Island colonial Deputy Governor George Hazard is another descendant. A published line of descent from Arnold to U.S. President James A. Garfield was later disproven.
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