Henry letters

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The Henry Letters were correspondence by an adventurer named John Henry with the Governor General of Canada, Sir James Craig in 1809.[1] The letters documented Henry's efforts to determine Federalist sympathies to have the New England states leave the United States and join the British Empire. A bundle of letters was sold to President James Madison for $50,000. The letters were fraudulent, but both the President and his fellow Republicans in Congress were deceived on the eve of the War of 1812.[2]

Henry left the United States for France shortly before the letters were made public on March 9, 1812 in a message to Congress by President Madison. [3]

Historians have been sharply critical of Madison's actions. Leopold writes, "In buying sight unseen, in February, 1812, the worthless Henry letters at the cost of a badly needed frigate in order to expose the supposed intrigues of the New England Federalists, Madison and Secretary of State Monroe looked like fools as well as knaves." [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  2. ^ University of Central Oklahoma - John Henry
  3. ^ American State Papers, 12th Congress, 1st Session Foreign Relations: Volume 3, pg. 545.
  4. ^ Richard W Leopold, The Growth of American Foreign Policy: A History (1962) p. 63.