[Washington, D.C.]: July 2, 1802. Folio sheet, folded to 8" x 10".  pp, signed at the end by Dearborn in his characteristically bold hand. Written in beautiful manuscript, probably secretarial, on the recto of page , and addressed to McHenry, "near Baltimore," with postal cancel, on the verso of page . Near Fine.
Henry Dearborn [1751-1829], Secretary of War in President Jefferson's cabinet for eight years, had been a Captain in the Revolution, U.S. Marshal for Maine, and Congressman from Maine [District of Massachusetts]. His predecessor as Secretary of War, James McHenry [1753-1816], had resigned in 1800 after allegations that he had misused funds. No formal investigation ensued, but McHenry delivered a defense before Congress on December 28, 1802.
Dearborn's Letter responds to McHenry's request for information necessary for his defense against those allegations. Israel Whelan and Whelan's partner and son-in-law, Joseph I. Miller, were merchants; Whelan was also Purveyor of Public Supplies. Whelan resigned as Purveyor after having incurred ruinous financial liabilities, a result of his son-in-law's rash speculations in French investments. ["McHenry, James," Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present; "James McHenry Papers, 1777-1832," Online Abstract, Manuscripts Division, William Clements Library, University of Michigan, web site of William L. Clements Library; Jefferson: THE PAPERS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON, VOLUME 38... Page 123.]
Dearborn's Letter reads in full: "SIR: YOUR OBLIGING AND FRIENDLY LETTER OF THE 14TH ULT. WAS ONLY RECEIVED. I AM NOT CERTAIN THAT WE POSSESS FULL INFORMATION RELATIVE TO THE SALT PETRE TRANSACTION TO WHICH YOU REFER. OUR INFORMATION HAS PRINCIPALLY BEEN DERIVED FROM MR. WHELAN, LATE PURVEYOR OF PUBLIC SUPPLIES, WHO WAS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HIS SON IN LAW MILLER. WHELAN APPEARS TO BE A MAN OF INTEGRITY. HE HAS PROMISED TO MAKE EVERY EXERTION IN HIS POWER FOR INDUCING MILLER TO PAY THE DEBT OUT OF THE DEMAND WHICH HE IS SAID TO HAVE RECOVERED FROM THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT. AND IF I COULD AS FULLY RELY ON THE INTEGRITY OF MILLER, AS I THINK I CAN ON THAT OF WHELAN, I SHOULD HAVE LITTLE DOUBT OF AN ULTIMATE PAYMENT; BUT AS WHELAN APPEARS TO ENTERTAIN SUSPICIONS UNFAVORABLE TO MILLER'S CHARACTER, I PRESUME THE CHANCES ARE AGAINST THE PAYMENT, EVEN IF MILLER SHOULD POSSESS THE MEANS.| I AM, SIR, WITH ESTEEM, YOUR OBT. HUMBLE SERVT.| H. DEARBORN" Item #30680