Born: January 4, 1738 at Groton, Connecticut
Died: September 23, 1789 (aged 51) on a ship near Kent, Great Britain
Spouse: Mehitable Nott Webb (m. 1763 – 1767), Elizabeth Saltonstall Evards (m. 1770 – 1777)
Children: He had 1 child
United States Envoy to France (1776 – 1778)
Delegate to the Second Continental Congress from Connecticut (1775 – 1776)
Delegate to the First Continental Congress from Connecticut (1774)
Facts about Silas Deane
One of his students was Edward Bancroft who played a major role in the rest of his life. In 1768 Deane was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, in 1769 he was appointed to the Wethersfield Committee of Correspondence, and from 1774 to 1776 he served as a delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress.
Deane’s mansion in Wethersfield, now called the Silas Deane House, was completed in 1766. It has been restored, declared a National Historical Landmark and opened for public viewing as a part of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum.
On March 2, 1776 Congress appointed Deane as a secret envoy to France with the mission of inducing the French government to grant financial aid to the colonies. Deane’s position was officially recognized after Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee arrived in Paris in December 1776, with orders from Congress appointing the trio as the diplomatic delegation to France.
On February 6, 1778, Deane and the other commissioners signed the Treaties of Amity and Commerce and of Alliance, officially creating the alliance between France and the American colonies.
On March 4, 1778, Deane received a letter from James Lovell containing the recall order from Congress. After Deane arrived in Philadelphia on July 14, 1778, he was shocked when Congress accused him of financial dishonesty based on reports of his fellow commissioner Arthur Lee. Because Deane had left his account books in Paris, he was unable to either properly defend himself or seek reimbursement for his own money spent procuring supplies in France.
Deane was allowed to return to Paris in 1780 to settle his affairs and attempt to assemble the records in dispute. On arrival he discovered that he was nearly ruined financially because the value of his investments had plummeted and some ships carrying his merchandise had been captured by the British.
Deane was then accused of being a traitor by his fellow colonists. In 1789 Deane planned return to North America in an attempt to recoup his lost fortune and reputation. After boarding the ship Boston Packet, he became ill and died on September 23 while the ship was awaiting repairs after turning back following damage from fierce winds.
Silas Deane’s granddaughter, Philura Alden pressed his case before Congress, and his family was eventually paid $37,000 in 1841 for the money owed to him on the grounds that the previous audit by the Continental Congress was “”ex parte, erroneous, and a gross injustice to Silas Deane””.
Silas Deane Childhood
Silas Deane was born in Groton, Connecticut on December 24, 1737. He was the oldest of six children whose father made his money farming, speculating on land and possibly as a blacksmith. The family was wealthy enough to afford to pay for Silas to attend Yale University, from which he graduated in 1758. At this point he started studying for the law in Hartford and he passed the bar in April 1761. While studying for the bar he had supported himself as a teacher or tutor.
Where is Silas Deane buried?
He is buried at St. Leonard’s, Deal in Kent, United Kingdom.
How did Silas Deane die?
Deane died mysteriously while on a ship about to leave for Canada, on September 23, 1789. Recent material presented by historian Julian Boyd strongly implies that Bancroft poisoned Deane to silence incriminating testimony of further double-dealing.”
Silas DEANE Biography
DEANE, Silas, a Delegate from Connecticut; born in Groton, Conn., December 24, 1737; received a classical training, and was graduated from Yale College, New Haven, Conn., in 1758; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1761 and commenced practice in Wethersfield, Conn., afterward engaged in mercantile pursuits in the same town; deputy of the general assembly 1768-1775; Member of the Continental Congress 1774-1776;
Ordered to France in March 1776 as a secret political and financial agent, and in September was commissioned as Ambassador with Franklin and Lee; negotiated and signed the treaty between France and the United States in Paris on February 6, 1778; personally secured the services of Lafayette, De Kalb, and other foreign officers; recalled in 1778 and investigated by Congress for financial misconduct; returned to Europe to secure documents for his defense; died on board ship sailing from Gravesend to Boston, September 23, 1789; interment in St. Leonards Churchyard in Deal, on the Kentish coast, England; in 1842 Congress voted to pay his heirs a restitution.