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Silas Deane

DEANE, Silas, diplomatist, born in Groton, Connecticut, 24 December 1737; died in Deal, England, 23 August 1789. He was graduated at Yale in 1758, and, engaging in mercantile pursuits at Wethersfield, Connecticut, took a leading part in the movements that led to the outbreak of the Revolution. He was sent as a delegate from Connecticut to the Continental congress, 1774'6. In 1776 he was ordered to France as a secret political and financial agent, where he made arrangements for securing substantial aid from that country, and, with Dr. Franklin and Arthur Lee, negotiated treaties of amity and commerce between France and the United States that were signed in Paris, 6 February 1778. He also personally obtained the services of Lafayette, De Kalb, and other foreign officers. These contracts were subsequently made the basis of charges against him by congress on the ground of extravagance, and he was recalled in consequence by resolution passed 21 November lq77. Reaching Philadelphia in 1778, he found that many reports had been circulated to his discredit. These seem to have originated with his late colleague, Arthur Lee, who had quarreled with him in Paris, but Deane had warm friends in Jay and Adams, the latter having succeeded him in his mission to France. After a heated controversy with influential members of congress, and being required by that body to make a full statement of his financial transactions in France, he was compelled to return to that country to procure the requisite papers. There he found that the publication of certain of his private dispatches had embittered the French government against him, and he was thus forced to retire to Holland, whence he passed over to England, where he died in great poverty, estranged from his native land and feeling that he had been unjustly dealt with. In 1842 congress vindicated his memory by deciding that a considerable sum of money was due him, and directed its payment to his heirs. Deane published, in his own defense, "Letters to Hon. Robert Morris" (New London, 1784); "An Address to the Free and Independent Citizens of the United States of North America" (Hartford and London, 1784); and "Paris Papers, or Mr. Silas Deane's late Intercepted Letters to his Brother and other Friends" (New York, 1781).

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