American Traitor: General James Wilkinson's Betrayal of the Republic and Escape from Justice Howard W. Cox Publisher: Georgetown University Press (June 1, 2023)
Hardcover: 392 pages
A fresh examination of the life and crimes of the highest-ranking federal official ever tried for treason and espionage
American Traitor examines the career of the notorious Gen. James Wilkinson, whose corruption and espionage exposed the United States to grave dangers during the early years of the republic. Wilkinson is largely forgotten today, which is unfortunate because his sordid story is a cautionary tale about unscrupulous actors who would take advantage of gaps in the law, oversight, and accountability for self-dealing.
Wilkinson's military career began during the Revolutionary War and continued through the War of 1812. As he rose to the rank of commanding general of the US Army, Wilkinson betrayed virtually everyone he worked with to advance his career and finances. He was a spy for Spain, plotted to have western territories split from the United States, and accepted kickbacks from contractors. His negligence and greed also caused the largest peacetime disaster in the history of the US Army. Howard W. Cox picks apart Wilkinson's misdeeds with the eye of an experienced investigator.
American Traitor offers the most in-depth analysis of Wilkinson's court-martial trials and how he evaded efforts to hold him accountable. This astounding history of villainy in the early republic will fascinate anyone with an interest in the period as well as readers of espionage history.
"American Traitor provides the most comprehensive and detailed examination of the espionage and treachery practiced by the first peacetime commanding general of the US Army. Howard Cox explores how Wilkinson forged ties with a series of presidents who protected him and shielded their administrations, demonstrating the power of inertia and government fears of public criticism common even in American democracy." ― Samuel J. Watson, author of Jackson's Sword: The Army Officer Corps on the American Frontier, 1810―1821
"Howard's love of US history, combined with his impressive body of service as an attorney in the US Army and his career as a senior Intelligence Community official, make this a must read for anyone who has served in those fields. This is not a dry historical document. Howard brings to life one of the most notorious spies in US history that no one has ever heard of." ― Margaret R. Pasquarelli, former US Intelligence Community officer,
"Howard Cox delves deeply into one of the Republic's early and highest ranking spies, and finds an unfortunately familiar account of ego, greed, and an insatiable quest for power. Slippery as teflon, Agent 13 evades attempts at accountability by Congress and the Courts and appears too much of an embarrassment to the several presidents who put him (and kept him) in power to act." ― David Buckley, former staff director, House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, and former inspector general, Central Inteligence Agency
"Howard W. Cox presents us with a well-researched account of treason during the early years of the Republic. It is not only perceptive and insightful, but engrossing and exciting. It is a must read for any serious student of American History and the Government of America during the forty years following our independence from England." ― Edward G. Allan, USA, Ret.