Maj. General Henry Dearborn, U.S. Secretary of War

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Henry Dearborn

Birthplace: Hampton, Rockingham County, New Hampshire
Death: Died in Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Simon Dearborn and Sarah Dearborn
Husband of Dorcas Osgood and Sarah Dearborn
Father of Henry A. S. Dearborn
Brother of Abigail Dearborn; John Dearborn; Simon Dearborn and unknown

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About Maj. General Henry Dearborn, U.S. Secretary of War

DAR Ancestor #: A031141

Henry Dearborn (February 23, 1751 – June 6, 1829) was an American physician, a statesman and a veteran of both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Born to Simon Dearborn and Sarah Marston in North Hampton, New Hampshire, he spent much of his youth in Epping, where he attended public schools. He studied medicine and opened a practice in Nottingham Square in 1772.

When fighting in the American Revolutionary War began, he organized and led a local militia troop of 60 men to Boston where he fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill as a captain in Colonel John Stark’s First New Hampshire Regiment. He then volunteered to serve under Benedict Arnold during the difficult American expedition to Quebec. His journal is an important record for that campaign. He was captured on December 31, 1775, during the Battle of Quebec and detained for a year. He was released on parole in May 1776, but he was not exchanged until March 1777.

After fighting at Ticonderoga, Freeman's Farm and Saratoga, Dearborn joined George Washington's main army at Valley Forge as a lieutenant colonel where he spent the winter of 1777–1778. He fought at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, and in 1779, he accompanied Major General John Sullivan on the Sullivan Expedition against the Iroquois in upstate New York. During the winter of 1778-1779 he was encamped at what is now Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding, Connecticut. Dearborn joined Washington’s staff in 1781 as deputy quartermaster general with the rank of colonel, and was present when Cornwallis surrendered after the Battle of Yorktown.

In June 1783, he received his discharge from the army and settled in Gardiner, Maine, then part of Massachusetts, where he worked as a U.S. marshal for the District of Maine. He represented this district as a Democratic-Republican in the Third and Fourth Congresses (1793-1797). In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson appointed him Secretary of War, a post he held for eight years until March 7, 1809. During his tenure, he helped plan the removal of Indians beyond the Mississippi River.

He was appointed collector of the port of Boston by President James Madison in 1809, a position he held until January 27, 1812, when he was appointed senior major general in the United States Army in command of the northeast sector from the Niagara River to the New England coast. During the War of 1812, while Dearborn prepared plans for simultaneous assaults on Montreal, Kingston, Fort Niagara, and Detroit, the execution was imperfect. Some scholars believe that he did not move quickly enough to provide sufficient troops to defend Detroit. William Hull, without firing a shot, surrendered the city to British General Isaac Brock. Although Dearborn had minor successes at the capture of York (now Toronto) on April 27, 1813, and at the capture of Fort George on May 27, 1813, his command was, for the most part, ineffective. He was recalled from the frontier on July 6, 1813, and reassigned to an administrative command in New York City. Dearborn was honorably discharged from the army on June 15, 1815.

President James Madison nominated Dearborn for reappointment as Secretary of War, but the Senate rejected the nomination. He was later appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal by President James Monroe and served from May 7, 1822, to June 30, 1824, when, by his own request, he was recalled.

He retired to his home in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he died 5 years later. He is interred in Forest Hills Cemetery, in Jamaica Plain outside of Boston.

Dearborn was married three times: to Mary Bartlett in 1771, to Dorcas (Osgood) Marble in 1780, and to Sarah Bowdoin, widow of James Bowdoin, in 1813. Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn was his son by his second wife.


Lewis and Clark, appointed by Thomas Jefferson, named the Dearborn River in west-central Montana after Dearborn in 1803. Dearborn County, Indiana, Dearborn, Michigan and Dearborn, Missouri were also named for him, as was Fort Dearborn in Chicago, which in turn was the namesake for Dearborn Street, a major street in downtown Chicago. His son, Henry A. S. Dearborn, was a congressman in 1831-1833.

Revolutionary War Continental Army Officer, US Congressman, Presidential Cabinet Secretary, War of 1812 Major General, US Diplomat.

Random Notes - In No Order - For Research Purposes Settled as a physician in Nottingham; was an officer of the Revolution; Secretary of War; Major-General in command of the U.S. Army in the war of 1812; Minister to Portugal . Had two children by Mary Bartlett Have a birth date of March 1751, and a death date of May 1926 . For more information see the book "The History of Hampton", page 663 Also information in the Monmouth Museum Newsletter, Feb 198, no. 2, vol.2 (in my Dearborn file) It says he was with Arnold in 1775, Col. Dearborn was captured at Quebec, later released, fought in a number of battles in the Revolutionary War and distinguished himself at the Battle of Monmouth. Thomas Jefferson made Dearborn Secretary of War in his cabinet. He was Chief of the American army in the War of 1812, apointed by James Madison. From Terry Dearborn and his information entitled "Dearborn (KS), Ritchie (OH), Shearer (Pa), Smith (IA) dated 2004 off the internet From the "Dearborns of Hampton, N.H." descendants of Godfrey Dearborn of Exeter and Hampton" Salem, Mass. 1893, which is from "History of Hampton, N.H." by Joseph Dow Henry Dearborn was born in North Hampton, N.H. In 1751 at his grandfather's garrison house. He lived in Epping as a child attending the Red Oak Hill school with William Plumer. He later lived in Nottingham with his wife and family where he worked as a physician. Henry Dearborn is most noted for his participation in the Rev. War. He served with General John Stark at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He also served with General Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold to make Canada the 14th colony. It was then that he became a prisoner of the British. After his release, he fought in New York for control of the Hudson. He and his men helped to push Burgayne back to the British lines to their defeat. Later, he joined Washington as a Liut. Colonel at Valley Foirge. He fought at the Battle of Monmouth, N.J. in 1778, and with John Sullivan against the Indians in New York State. In 1781, he saw General Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown to end the Rev. War. After the war, he brought a group of Epping citizens to settle in Monmouth, Maine. He later moved to Roxbury, Mass. where he died in 1829. From: "Our Town: Epping New Hampshire by Angela G. Welch" a pamphlet. In 1822 he was appointed minister to Portuhgal and held that post for two years. In the mooted question who commanded the American troops at Bunker Hill, Gen. Dearborn vigorously attacked the claim of Gen. Putnam From and the Dora Florence Thomas.... Family Tree : HENRY DEARBORN was born in Hampton, New Hampshire, on 23 February 1751; studied medicine under Dr. Hall Jackson at Portsmouth; married Mary Bartlett, 1771; entered practice as a physician in 1772; was elected captain of a military company; participated in the battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill, served under Benedict Arnold in the Quebec expedition and was captured, 1775; was paroled in 1776 and exchanged in 1777; was appointed major of the 3d New Hampshire Regiment; participated in operations at Ticonderoga and Freeman's Farm with the 1st New Hampshire Regiment, 1777; spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge; took part in the battle of Monmouth, 1778; was engaged in the operations against the Six Nations, 1779; married his second wife, Dorcas Marble, 1780; joined Washington's staff as deputy quartermaster general; commanded the 1st New Hampshire at the battle of Yorktown, 1781; returned to private life in Maine, 1783; was appointed brigadier, then major general of militia; was appointed United States marshal for the district of Maine (part of Massachusetts until 1820), 1790; served in the United States House of Representatives for the same congressional district, 1793-1797; served as secretary of war, 5 March 1801-7 March 1809; helped plan the removal of the Indians beyond the Mississippi; was appointed collector of the port of Boston, 1809; was the senior officer of the United States Army, 27 January 1812-15 June 1815; was ineffective in command of the northeastern theater in the War of 1812; captured York (Toronto) and Fort George, 1813; was transferred to command in New York City, 1813, and married his third wife, Sarah Bowdoin; was nominated and withdrawn for the post of secretary of war, 1815; served as minister to Portugal, 1822-1824; died at Roxbury, Massachusetts, on 6 June 1829. He is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain outside of Boston, Mass Posted on message Board: Henry DearbornAmong the first generation of United States Marshals, Henry Dearborn clearly stands out as the most prominent. Born in Hampton, New Jersey, on February 23, 1751, Dearborn studied medicine until the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. As troubles with the British increased, he organized a militia company, to which he was elected captain. His company fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

Dearborn accompanied Benedict Arnold's ill-fated expedition to take Quebec in the fall and winter of 1775. Along the way, the small force suffered from cold and hunger. According to legend, Dearborn sacrificed his pet dog to feed his men. In the end, the expedition turned into a disaster and Dearborn was taken prisoner. The British paroled him in May 1776 and exchanged him for British prisoners the following March.

Back with the Continental Army, Dearborn took part in the campaign against Burgoyne and fought at the battles of Ticonderoga and Freeman's Farm. He was with Washington at Valley Forge and served on the commander in chief's staff during the battle of Yorktown with the rank of colonel.

After the war, Dearborn moved to Maine, which was then a part of Massachusetts. Rather than return to the practice of medicine, he remained a soldier with the Maine militia, reaching the rank of brigadier general in 1787 and major general in 1789.

In September of that year, George Washington appointed him Marshal. Dearborn was 38 at the time of his appointment. He served as Marshal for three years until his election to Congress as one of Jefferson's Democratic Republicans in 1793. While Marshal, Dearborn earned the rather dubious distinction of committing the first federal execution when he hanged the murderer Thomas Bird in June'1790.

Dearborn retained his seat in the House of Representatives until 1797. A committed Jeffersonian, Dearborn campaigned actively against John Adams in the election of 1800. Jefferson appointed him Secretary of War in 1801. While in this post, Dearborn ordered the construction of a fort on the western shores of Lake Michigan. From that fort grew the city of Chicago. At the conclusion of Jefferson's two terms as president, Dearborn accepted appointment as collector of the port of Boston.

After the declaration of war against Great Britain in 1812, President James Madison turned to Dearborn-the only Republican with extensive military experience- to take command of the American armies in the northeast, where most of the fighting during the war took place. Unfortunately, Dearborn, who had little experience commanding large numbers of troops in the field, performed poorly. His invasion of Canada, like the expedition he accompanied during the Revolution, ended in defeat. In addition, he failed to deploy his command adequately, which exposed several of his regiments to attack by the British. Madison relieved Dearborn of command on July 6, 1813. But the President retained his faith in Dearborn and nominated him to the office of Secretary of War. A storm of public protest, however, forced the administration to withdraw the nomination. Dearborn retired to Massachusetts. Dearborn served as the Minister to Portugal for about two years, before again retiring to private life in 1824. He lived in Roxbury, Mass., just outside Boston, until his death on June 6, 1829, at the age of 78.

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Maj. General Henry Dearborn, U.S. Secretary of War's Timeline

February 23, 1751
Hampton, Rockingham County, New Hampshire
Age 31
June 6, 1829
Age 78
Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA