Wilkinson, James

Wilkinson, James

Wilkinson, James, 1757–1825, American general and one of the most corrupt and devious officers in the nation's early army, b. Calvert co., Md. Abandoning his medical studies in 1776 to join the army commanded by George Washington, he served as a captain in Benedict Arnold's unsuccessful Quebec campaign. Later he was Gen. Horatio Gates's deputy adjutant general in the Saratoga campaign and was given the honor of bringing to Congress the news of General Burgoyne's defeat. Congress censured Wilkinson for delay in carrying the dispatch but rewarded him by promoting him to brigadier general (1777) and making him secretary to the board of war (1778), a position he was forced to leave because of his implication in the Conway Cabal. He was (1779–81) clothier general of the army but resigned when charged with irregularities in his accounts.

Wilkinson moved to Kentucky in 1784. Shortly thereafter, he became a key figure in the plan to induce what was then the SW United States to form a separate nation allied to Spain. Wilkinson apparently took an oath of allegiance to Spain, received a Spanish pension of $2,000 (and later $4,000) a year, and acted as a secret agent of the Spanish government for many years. To the Spanish authorities in New Orleans he represented his agitation for the separation of Kentucky from Virginia as part of the secession scheme; there is no indication, however, that he revealed any such motivation to the Kentucky conventions, in which others had expressed sentiments in favor of a separate republic of Kentucky.

In 1791, Wilkinson reentered the army as a lieutenant colonel, and in 1792 he again attained the rank of brigadier general, serving under Anthony Wayne. On Wayne's death (1796) Wilkinson became (1797) commander in chief of the entire army, even though he was still in the pay of the Spanish. While governor (1805–6) of the Louisiana Territory, he became involved in the schemes of Aaron Burr. Alarmed when he realized that his association with Burr was common knowledge, Wilkinson informed President Jefferson that Burr was plotting to disrupt the Union. Although he was chief prosecution witness at Burr's trial, he narrowly escaped indictment. Subsequently (1811) he was cleared, but just barely, by an army board of inquiry. In the War of 1812 as supreme commander on the Canadian frontier, he failed signally in the campaign to take Montreal and was relieved of his command. Once again an official inquiry left him untouched. He wrote Memoirs of My Own Times (3 vol., 1816) in an attempt to answer his many critics. He died in Mexico, where he spent his last years.


See biographies by J. R. Jacobs (1938), T. R. Hay and M. R. Werner (1941), and A. Linklater (2009); J. E. Weems, Men without Countries (1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Wilkinson, James

(1757–1825) soldier, conspirator; born in Calvert County, Md. He served in the American Revolution under Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates and joined the Conway Cabal, the group that schemed against Washington. Seemingly a conspirator by nature, he intrigued with Aaron Burr to establish a separate nation on the western frontier; when the plot was discovered, he had the effrontery to order Burr's arrest. Leader of the failed expedition to Montreal (1813), Wilkinson left the army in 1815.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
OpenWorks was formed four years ago by five engineers - Chris Down, Neil Armstrong, Alex Wilkinson, James Cross, and Roland Wilkinson - who pooled their expertise to create SkyWall, having spent many years working for other defence and engineering companies in the North East.
Huddersfield: Tom Hodson, Arthur Wilkinson, James Davies, Will Milner, Elliot Knight, Mark Pease, Joe Green; Adam Blades, Fran Entressengle, Alex Battye, Matt Dunn, Nick Sharpe, Ross Thornton, Lewis Bradley, Dickie Piper(C) Replacements: Harry Whitfield, Bob Sykes, Guy Borrowdale, Jack TEAM HAVE BUILT MOMENTUM AFTER TWO EARLY LOSSES
John Dewhurst claimed a treble, Adam Wilkinson, James Bowman and Levi Oman also netting.
Results League: Billingham Town Res 2 (Ross Kidson, Liam Woodhouse) Fishburn Park 2 (Nathan Storr, Michael Kilpatrick); Redcar Newmarket 2 (Gavin Jackson, Michael Dowse) Nunthorpe Athletic 0; St Mary's Yarm 4 (Ryan Mackay, Jonny Squires 2, P Vaughan) Redcar Town 4 (Callum Revely, Tom Mullen, OG, Jamie Lee); Staithes Athletic 3 (Ben Crooks, Ryan Peebles, Danny Harris) Thornaby Dubliners 4 (Sean Wilkinson, James Hackett, Glen Corkain, Anton Buchan), Stockton West End 4 (Josh Prout, Joe Teasdale, Ben Turner, Josh Haley) BEADS FC 7 (Alex Brown 3, Karl Liley, Nathan Konya, Dennis Alderson, Dan Chapman); Whinney Banks YCC 1 (Anthony Leyshon) Guisb Three Fiddles 2 (Jay Walker, Callum Wilson).
BUILDBASE BEES (from): Jason Garrity, Chris Harris, Krzysztof Kasprzak, Danny King, Carl Wilkinson, James Sarjeant, Kacper Woryna.
The names on the memorial are William Bailey, Peter Carr, Joseph Cousins, William Clark, George Dickinson, Hugh Evan Evans, Cuthbert Gregory, Richard Gibson, Andrew Hamilton, Michael Phillipson, Henry Potts, James Smith, John Scott, Matthew Wake, John Wilkinson, James Jackson, Frederick James and Ralph Wilson.
Political thriller from director Roman Polanski, starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, James Belushi, Timothy Hutton and Jon Bernthal.
The squad contains a few players who play for Wales' two professional clubs - Callum Wilkinson, James Gahan, Yannic Parker and Patrick Evans from South Wales Scorpions and Owain Griffiths, Iwan Brown, Kriss Wilkes and Andrew Oakden from North Wales Crusaders.
Squad members Jonny Wilkinson, James Haskell and Tom Palmer all play their club rugby in France, while prop Andrew Sheridan has been linked with a move to Toulon when his Sale Sharks contract expires next summer.
Summary: Players like Jonny Wilkinson, James Haskell and Tom Palmer may not be allowed to play for their national team in the future.
The fact he can see the game only getting worse is why he is quitting Wasps at the end of the season to join the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, James Haskell and Riki Flutey earning the big Euros across the Channel.
DERRY: B Gillis, M Dunne, B Og McAlary, M Craig, M McGoldrick, D McBride, B McGuigan, L Hinphey, G O'Kane, Charlie Kielt, K McGuckian, B McGoldrick, Ciaran Mullan, S L McGoldrick, N McCusker, M Bateson, F Doherty, Patsy Bradley, J Diver, A McCartney, B Mullan, R Wilkinson, James Kielt, M Lynch, E Lynn, Declan Mullan, Eoin Bradley, Seamus Bradley, C O'Boyle, A McLaughlin, E Brown, Paddy Bradley.