A Revolutionary War journal written by Benedict Arnold and stolen from a museum in Maine was recovered, and a former trainee museum clerk was arrested, an official said Saturday.
John P. Conley, 39, who was charged with theft, had worked as a clerk at the Maine Historical Society Museum in Portland in a job-training program. He moved to Chicago last May shortly before the journal was discovered missing.The FBI arrested him Friday and recovered the journal after he allegedly showed it to a bookstore, the agency said in a statement.
Daniel Weinberg, owner of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, said a man brought the book to his shop in a paper sack a couple of months ago. He said he put it in his vault until he had time to authenticate it.
When he finally got around to looking at the journal, he said he was immediately suspicious.
"The most disturbing part was the frontispiece, which said it was presented to the historical society by Colonel Aaron Burr in 1831," he said. Burr had been an aide to Arnold.
He traced it to the Maine historical society and called the FBI.
The journal includes handwritten copies of letters Arnold wrote to George Washington in 1775, as Arnold, then a colonel in the Revolutionary army, led 1,000 men through the Maine wilderness in an unsuccessful attack on Quebec.
Arnold became one of the nation's most notorious traitors a few years later when he joined the British.
The monetary value of the journal hasn't been established, said Elizabeth Miller, the museum's executive director.
"It is of great historical significance, to Maine history in particular," she said.