Description

    Silas Deane Autograph Letter Signed "Silas Deane," one page, 7.25" x9". Philadelphia, November 23, 1778. Integral leaf addressed by Deane to "The Honorble/ John Hancock Esq/ Boston." In full, "I have wrote you repeatedly but have not been honored with any reply, which I impute to the uncommon hurry in which you must have been, since you left us. I have long since been impatient to see you in this City for many, very many Reasons as well public, as private. I shall hope for that pleasure, before I leave America, meantime you will oblige me by sending me a Bill for the Amount of the Goods sent you if agreeable to you, as I am remitting whatever I can to France against my return for which am extremely impatient. I pray of you to make inquiry if a passage can be procured from Boston soon in a good Vessel for France or Spain I care not which - the port waits & I cannot add any thing but my Compliments to Mrs. Hancock & that I am as ever with the most sincere attachment."

    Silas Deane (1737-1789) represented Connecticut in the Continental Congress (1774-1776). Early in 1776, he was sent to France by Congress to induce the French government to lend its financial aid to the colonies. Deane, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur Lee became U.S. commissioners to France. Deane's carelessness in keeping accounts of his receipts and expenditures and the differences between himself and Arthur Lee led to his recall to face charges, of which Lee's complaints formed the basis. Before Deane left Paris, he, Franklin, and Lee signed the treaty of alliance on February 6, 1778. Deane arrived in Philadelphia on July 11, 1778. He had the support of John Adams and John Jay and, in this letter, seems anxious to get Hancock's support as well, wishing to see him "for many, very many Reasons as well public, as private." For months, Congress ignored Deane's efforts to meet, make his report, and present his accounts for payment. Congress had finally scheduled him to speak in person on Monday evening, December 7, 1778, just 17 days after he wrote this letter, but the publication of his address "To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America" in the Pennsylvania Packet newspaper on December 5th changed the mood in Congress. Deane was informed instead that they were not prepared to hear him and that he was to submit his case in writing.

    On March 24, 1779, the Committee on Foreign Affairs reported to the Continental Congress ten charges against Silas Deane, with evidence of impropriety supplied by Arthur Lee. There were also seven charges against Arthur Lee with evidence supplied by Deane, three charges against Benjamin Franklin with evidence supplied by Lee and Ralph Izard, Commissioner for the Court of Tuscany ("That Mr Franklin is not a proper person to be trusted with the management of the affairs of America, that he is haughty and self sufficient, and not guided by principles of virtue or honor."). There was no trial and Deane was never found guilty of the charges. In 1780 he returned to Paris, as a private citizen, to settle his affairs. Deane would be vindicated on August 11, 1842 when President John Tyler signed "An act for the settlement of the accounts of Silas Deane," a payment of $37,000. Congress characterized Arthur Lee's evidence against Deane as "a gross injustice." Show-through from seal remnants on verso. Tears from seal on integral address leaf. A truly historic letter in fine condition.


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