Silas Deane

Deane, Silas, 1737–89, political leader and diplomat in the American Revolution, b. Groton, Conn. A lawyer and merchant at Wethersfield, Conn., he was elected (1772) to the state assembly and became a leader in the revolutionary cause. He was (1774–76) a delegate to the Continental Congress, which sent (1776) him as diplomatic agent to France. There Deane worked with Pierre de Beaumarchais in securing commercial and military aid for the colonies, obtaining supplies that were of material help in the Saratoga campaign (1777). He recruited a number of foreign officers, such as the marquis de Lafayette, Casimir Pulaski, Baron von Steuben, and Johann De Kalb. Late in 1776, Congress sent Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee to join Deane. Together they arranged (1778) a commercial and military alliance with France. Deane, however, was soon recalled by Congress and was faced with accusations of profiteering made against him by Lee. Embittered, unable to clear himself, and accused as a traitor after publication of some pessimistic private letters, Deane lived the rest of his life in exile. In 1842 Congress voted $37,000 to his heirs as restitution and characterized Lee's audit of Deane's accounts "a gross injustice."

See C. Isham, ed., The Deane Papers, 1774–1790 (5 vol., 1887–91); biography by G. L. Clark (1913).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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