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First Name: Henry

Last Name: Dearborn

Birthplace: North Hampton, NH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Continental Army (1775 - 1784)

Date of Birth: 23 February 1751

Date of Death: 06 June 1829

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
Henry Dearborn

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)
•  War of 1812


Henry Dearborn
Major General, Continental Army

Henry Dearborn was born on 23 February 1751 in North Hampton, NH, to Simon and Sarah Marston Dearborn. He spent much of his youth in Epping, NH, 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 General Benedict Arnold during the difficult American expedition to Quebec. (His journal is an important record for that campaign.) He was captured on 31 December 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 1777-78. 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 1778-79 he was encamped at what is now Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding, CT. 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, ME (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 (1793-97). In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson appointed him Secretary of War, a post he held for eight years until 7 March 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 27 January 1812, when he was appointed Senior Major General in the U.S. 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 27 April 1813 and at the capture of Fort George on 27 May, his command was, for the most part, ineffective. He was recalled from the frontier on 6 July 1813 and reassigned to an administrative command in New York City. He was honorably discharged from the Army on 15 June 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 7 May 1822 to 30 June 1824 when, by his own request, he was recalled.

Dearborn retired to his home in Roxbury, MA, where he died 5 years later.


Lewis and Clark, appointed by Thomas Jefferson, named the Dearborn River in west-central Montana after Dearborn in 1803.

Dearborn County, IN; Dearborn, MI; and Dearborn, MO, were also named for him.

Fort Dearborn in Chicago, IL, which in turn was the namesake for Dearborn Street, a major street in downtown Chicago, was named in his honor.


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.

Army Brigadier General Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn, who was also a U.S. Congressman in 1831-33, was his son by his second wife.

Death and Burial

Henry Dearborn died on 6 June 1829 in Roxbury, MA. He is buried at the Forest Hills Cemetery and Crematory in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Honoree ID: 2417   Created by: MHOH




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