John Henry (spy)
Henry came to Philadelphia about 1793, edited Brown's Philadelphia Gazette, and afterward was commissioned a captain in the United States Army, on June 1, 1798, during the Quasi-War with France. Henry commanded an artillery company under General Ebenezer Stevens of the New York Miltia, while he served as commanding officer at Fort Jay, on Governor's Island in New York Harbor.
Henry was re-assigned to Fort Wolcott in Newport, Rhode Island and was the first commander of Fort Adams, also in Newport, when the fort was opened on July 4, 1799. He later served at Fort Sumner in Portland, Maine and resigned from the army at the end of 1801. He settled on a farm in northern Vermont, and also studied law. Here he remained five years, occasionally writing articles for the press against the republican form of government.
These attracted the attention of Sir James Craig, then Governor-General of Canada, who employed him in 1809 to find out the extent of the reported disaffection to the national government in New England. Henry spent three months in Boston in this employment, reporting constantly to Craig by letter, and at one time thought that in the event of war between Great Britain and the United States, Massachusetts would take the lead in establishing a northern confederacy, which might, in the end, ally itself with Great Britain. Craig promised Henry office in Canada, but died soon afterward, and the spy's efforts to obtain his reward in London meeting with no success, he returned to the United States and, on February 2, 1812, divulged the whole matter to President James Madison, who paid him $50,000 for his information, the other $40,000 of his reward to be filled in the form of an ancestral estate by the "Count de Crillon," the man who had convinced Henry to disclose his letters. Henry left for France immediately after payment was made to him.
His disclosures were made the subject of a special message to Congress, and created much excitement throughout the country, especially among the opponents of the administration. Some of those opponents alleged that it was all a political trick that had been devised by the President to cause war with Great Britain, and the Henry letters did indeed help create the outrage which led to the declaration of the War of 1812 on June 12.
The last report of Henry was that he was employed in 1820 by King George IV to spy on his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, while she was living in Rome. Details of Henry's later life are few, but he is believed to have died in Paris in 1853.