Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 23 March 1807

War Department
March 23d. 1807


When Ensign Mead arrived in the City of Washington with the charge of S. Swartout, he observed to me that he had a desire to make a communication, which he intended to have made to General Wilkinson previous to his leaving New Orleans: no other person being present I observed that I had no objection to hear what he had to say. He then remarked that, about nine months ago, he was invited to dine with Judge Workman at New Orleans in company with Lieutenants Taylor & Sevier; that after dinner Judge Workman observed that he had an advantageous & important proposition to make on conditions they (Taylor, Sevier and Mead) would engage not to divulge it; that after some observations from them, in which they conditionally agreed to secrecy, he, (the Judge) remarked, there was an opportunity for them to attain honor and wealth, or words to that effect, by engaging in an enterprise against the Spanish possessions; and that young enterprising Officers would have offers of honorable situations &c. &c.

Ensign Mead after communicating the foregoing, said that he soon afterwards, was ordered up the river and heard no more of the business.

A few days after receiving this information from Ensign Mead, I received the depositions of Captain Furgus and Doctor Davidson, by which it appeared that Ensign Mead had not communicated all he knew in relation to the secret association at New Orleans—I then notified him that I wished to see him, he called at the Office, and was informed, of the reasons I had for suspecting that he had not communicated to me all he knew relative to the subject he had before mentioned; and that I did not wish him to make any further communication unless it was agreeable to himself;—but that his future standing might probably depend, in some measure, on the candor and frankness, he should manifest, in the communications he might think proper to make.—He then declared, in strong terms, that he had no desire to keep back any circumstances which had come to his knowledge in relation to the subject;—and said, he would fully and freely disclose whatever he knew concerning it.—I then asked him what conversation had taken place between himself and others in addition to what he had mentioned the other day—He observed that he did not recollect any, except with Captain Furgus. I asked him if he had not spoken to any other officer on the subject; he said he recollected hearing some conversation relative to it, between Captains Furgus and Cooper—What he said of these two conversations did not appear sufficiently explicit to deserve much attention;—and I enquired if he had never conversed with any other persons on the subject—He said that, when he went up to Fort Adams, he had some conversation with a person not attached to the Army, but declined mentioning his name. I then asked him whether he had not been at a meeting of some Officers at a place called the willow Grove, where some conversation took place concerning the business in question; he said he had not. I observed to him that I had been induced to believe that he had been present at such meeting—and he again possitively denied evir being at such place, or having had any other conversation on the subject than what he had already mentioned.

Previous and subsequent to the foregoing conversation, the Testimony of sundry Officers having been received from New Orleans, and also the verbal declarations of Lieut. Luckett to myself, which show, that Ensign Mead had not been candid or correct in his communications to me; that he was knowing to some facts and transactions, of which he explicitly denied having any knowledge, notwithstanding his frequent declarations that he would hold nothing back, but would candidly communicate every circumstance within his knowledge relating to the subject in question.

Ensign Mead repeatedly declared that he was not at any meeting of Officers at the Willow Grove; nor had any conversation at that place with any one respecting the subject.

He also repeatedly declared that he had held no conversation with any other persons, except what took place at Judge Workman’s and with Captain Furgus, and one person at, or in the vicinity of Fort Adams, who was not attached to the Army.—That these declarations are unfounded and untrue, will appear from the depositions of Lieutenants Luckett and Murray, of Ensign Small, and the declarations of Doctor Davidson, herewith transmitted.

Accept, Sir, assurances of my high respect and consideration

H Dearborn

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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