Henry Dearborn - Jefferson's Secretary of War

Henry Dearborn - Jefferson's Secretary of War

Today we discuss Part Two of the life of Henry Dearborn. If you missed yesterday’s article you can read it here.

After a long career as a Revolutionary, Dearborn was chosen as Secretary for War for President Thomas Jefferson. For the better part of fifteen years, Henry Dearborn was the most powerful military man in the United States of America.

Secretary of War

Henry Dearborn was selected as the fifth Secretary of War in US history by Thomas Jefferson. He would spend all eight years of Jefferson’s Presidency in this position. Not a day more. Not a day less.

As Secretary of War, Dearborn helped Jefferson establish peaceful boundaries with most Native American nations as well as British Canada.

Furthermore, Dearborn was able to avoid war with New Spain despite the deceitful games of James Wilkinson.

Additionally, Henry authored the Military Peace Establishment Act which, after its passing, purged Federalists from the United States Army.

Senior Officer of the United States Army

Dearborn retired alongside Jefferson but was appointed Senior Officer of the United States Army by President James Madison at the onset of the War of 1812.

We remember Washington, Grant and Eisenhower, as leaders of the Army during significant wars but, much like the War of 1812 itself, Dearborn is much overlooked. To be fair, this is mostly because Dearborn only spent a year in this position, and he was not very successful.

But hey, he did invade Toronto!

Trash Talking About the Wrong Founder

After his time as Commanding General, Henry Dearborn ran for Governor of Massachusetts.

As a Democratic-Republican in one of the few remaining Federalist States, he was always a long-shot. Attempting to get publicity through controversy, Dearborn published an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

While this was not controversial on the surface, Dearborn decided to criticize the actions (and character) of Israel Putnam. Putnam was a hero to most Massachusetts citizens and the stunt backfired, hurting Henry’s reputation severely.

Dearborn accepted one last assignment from President James Monroe to work as Minister to Portugal. Now in his 70’s, Henry traveled to Europe for the first time.

He returned home two years later and settled into a peaceful retirement.

If you would like to learn about a few of the Secretaries of War who preceded Dearborn, check out my articles on Henry Knox, Timothy Pickering, and James McHenry. (A lot of Henry’s, huh.)

Although many people don’t consider the War of 1812 a part of the American Founding, I sure do (Madison was still President!). So does Walter R. Borneman, the author of ‘The War That Forged A Nation.’ I highly recommend it, so grab a copy through the affiliate link below.

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1812: The War of 1812
By Walter R. Borneman
Federalist #17 - Alexander Hamilton - Federalist Fridays

Federalist #17 - Alexander Hamilton - Federalist Fridays

Henry Dearborn's Firsthand Account

Henry Dearborn's Firsthand Account