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Opinion

April 18, 2013

The Henry Plot

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, April 17, 1813

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

What Started the War of 1812?

The infamous Order in Council of 26th Oct. 1812 places beyond any reasonable doubt, this fact, that the Henry Plot was a thing well understood and encouraged by the British government, as they, by said Order in Council, are attempting to carry into effect a part of the plan agreed on by “their friends in America” and John Henry, viz. to “bend their whole force, in case of war, against the southern states,” and to favor their friends in the Eastern states, as much as possible, on condition that those friends should aid and feed them.

There was a time, when a similar proposition, from any foreign nation would have roused such indignant feelings in the American people, that town meetings would have been held in all parts of New England, with a view of expressing their detestation and contempt of the dastardly measures, and the nation that resorted to it; and we trust and hope that the spirit of ‘75 is not yet quite extinct in this quarter. – “BUNKER HILL”.

COMMENT: John Henry (ca. 1778-1853) was a British spy against America, but a crooked, and as it turned out, an incompetent one. Born in Ireland, he came to Philadelphia about 1793, where he edited a newspaper (and cultivated friendships with Federalist politicians), and served for a time in the American army. Sometime around 1805, he moved to Montreal, Canada, where he befriended local officials and promoted the idea that in case of war with America, the New England states could be induced to secede and side with Great Britain. He was sent to Boston as a secret British agent in 1809, with secret instructions to determine whether the Federalists would be likely “to bring about separation from the general Union” and to what extent “they would look up to England for assistance or be disposed to enter into a connexion with us.” He returned to Canada with documents purporting to support this idea.

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