Secret Agent Number 13

December 18th, 2012

James Wilkinson was a soldier and a statesman. Serving in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Wilkinson was also the Commanding General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1798 and again from 1800 to 1812. From 1805 to 1807 Wilkinson served as the first Governor of the Louisiana Territory.

But Wilkinson had a dark secret. Beginning in 1787 he was also a spy for the Spanish Crown. With the intention of bringing western territories under Spanish control and gaining territory for himself as a reward, Wilkinson worked against the U.S. government from within for thirteen years. He conspired with fellow spy Aaron Burr, but gave Burr up to President Thomas Jefferson, avoiding implication himself.

Though not discovered as a spy during his own lifetime, Wilkinson did not escape controversy. He went through several court marshals and ultimately fell from grace after an unsuccessful attack on Montreal during the War of 1812. Wilkinson died in Mexico City in 1825 while attempting to negotiate for land in Texas.

His work as Agent Number 13 was discovered in 1854 by Louisiana historian Charles Gayarre.

To learn more about James Wilkinson see these documents.