DEANE, Silas (1737-1789)

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. Leonard's Churchyard in Deal, on the Kentish coast, England; in 1842 Congress voted to pay his heirs a restitution.

Connecticut Historical Society
Hartford, CT
Papers: 1740-1842, 7 linear feet.
The collection includes correspondence, letter books, essays, drafts, contracts, expense records and accounts reflecting Silas Deane's service as U.S. agent in France. A finding aid is available in the repository.

Papers: In the Jonathan Bulkley Account Book, 1758-1777, 1 volume.
The account book includes accounts with Silas Deane.

Papers: In the Charles Caldwell Account Book, 1757-1769, 1 volume.
The account book for this hatter includes accounts with Silas Deane of Wethersfield, Connecticut.

Papers: In the Chester McArthur Destler Papers, 1934-1984, 19 boxes.
The papers include research notes and drafts of Chester Destler's writings relating to several individual,s including Silas Deane. A finding aid is available in the repository.


Brown University
John Hay Library
Providence, RI
Papers: In the Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais Papers, 1780, 1 item.
A letter from Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais to an unidentified recipient written on September 12, 1780. Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais recalls that Silas Deane procured and returned twelve letters relating to his affairs which were under investigation.


Columbia University
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
New York, NY
Papers: In the William Samuel Johnson Papers, 1753-1802, 1 linear foot.
Correspondents include Silas Deane.


Copley Press, Inc.
J. S. Copley Library
La Jolla, CA
Papers: n.d., approximately 3 pages.
A letter from Silas Deane to Robert Morris. Silas Deane writes that he hopes "in a few weeks to see American Independence acknowledged after which I shall ask Liberty to quit politics forever."

Papers: 1774, 4 pages.
A letter from Silas Deane to Thomas Mumford written on October 16, 1774. Silas Deane describes the work of the first Continental Congress from August 1773 until the date of the letter.

Papers: 1780, 6 pages.
A letter from Silas Deane to his brother-in-law, Thomas Mumford, written on August 28, 1780. Silas Deane writes about France's increasing resentment of Americans because of the way the Revolution was being carried out.


Dartmouth College
Rauner Special Collections Library
Hanover, NH
Papers: ca. 1762, 4 pages.
A letter from Silas Deane to Samuel Eliot written around 1762. Silas Deane is transmitting three examples of his poetry and thanks Samuel Eliot for the books he loaned.


Daughters of the American Revolution
Hendrick Hudson Chapter
Hudson, NY
Papers: In the Revolutionary War Collection, 1775-1783, 2 volumes.
The collection includes photocopies of letters and accounts concerning Silas Deane's activities in equipping a vessel for war time use, 1775-1777.


Harvard University
Houghton Library
Cambridge, MA
Papers: In the Arthur Lee Papers, ca. 1766-1787, 12 boxes.
Other authors include Silas Deane. A finding aid is available in the repository and online.


Haverford College
Special Collections, Magill Library
Haverford, PA
Papers: In the Robert Morris Papers, 1776, 3 pages.
These papers include two letters from Robert Morris to Silas Deane written on October 23, 1776. Robert Morris writes concerning treaties with France and other nations, the procurement of eight battle ships, and influencing France and Spain to also send ships.


Huntington Library
Manuscripts Department
San Marino, CA
Papers: In the Thomas Townshend Papers, 1765-1787, 47 pages.
Thomas Townshend was the 1st Viscount of Sydney. Includes Silas Deane's "Observations and proposals relating to a Navigable Canal from Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence" (1785-1787).


Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1775-1784, 175 items.
The papers include letters to Silas Deane from Benjamin Franklin, an account kept while Silas Deane was in France, a certificate of appointment as an American representative in France, and papers relating to Silas Deane's financial claims against Congress.

Microfilm: In the Peter Force Papers, 1777-1784, 2 reels.
Includes letterbooks of Silas Deane. A finding aid is available in the repository.

Papers: In the U.S. Joint Commissioners for Negotiating Treaties with France and Great Britain Account Book, 1776-1779, 1 volume.
The account book Includes financial transactions for Silas Deane. A finding aid is available in the repository.


Massachusetts Historical Society
Boston, MA
Papers: In the Huntington-Wolcott Papers, ca. 1698-1911, 3 boxes, 2 volumes and 2 folders.
Correspondents include Silas Deane.


The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts
New York, NY
Papers: 1768, 1 item.
A letter from Silas Deane to Captain William Deming written on September 19, 1768.

Papers: 1769, 1 item.
A letter from Silas Deane to Miss Sally Webb written on April 1, 1769.

Papers: 1773, 1 item.
A letter from Silas Deane to Peyton Randolph written on November 4, 1773.

Papers: 1774, 1 item.
A letter from Silas Deane to The Committee of Correspondence, Wethersfield, Connecticut, written on September 19, 1774.


The New York Public Library
Manuscripts & Archives Section
New York, NY
Papers: In the Robert Morris Papers, 1751-1802, 1 linear foot.
Other authors include Silas Deane.


The Rosenbach Museum & Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1775, 1 item.
A transcript of two letters from Silas Deane from April 25, 1775. Silas Deane gives news of the latest British plans and troop movements and setting forth plans for an intelligence courier service from Boston to New York.


The Rosenbach Museum & Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1776, 1 item.
A letter from Silas Deane to Charles Gravier written on December 1, 1776. Silas Deane transmits a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and expresses gratitude for the reception of American ships in French ports.


The Rosenbach Museum & Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1779, 1 item.
A letter from Silas Deane to Nathanael Greene written on January 2, 1779. Silas Greene writes concerning the congressional investigation, then in progress, of his conduct as the American agent in France.


The Rosenbach Museum & Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In the Louis Lestarjette Papers, 1776, 1 item.
A letter from Louis Lestarjette to Silas Deane written on November 16, 1776. Louis Lestarjette writes with news of the Battle of Long Island and reports on three shiploads of supplies about to sail for America.


The Rosenbach Museum & Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In the George Washington Papes, 1778, 1 item.
A letter from George Washington to Silas Deane written on September 2, 1778. George Washington writes concerning the exchange of prisoners and an early report of the Battle of Rhode Island.


Rutgers University
Special Collections
New Brunswick, NJ
Papers: In the Elizabeth Sarah Kite Papers, ca. 1840-1962, 1.93 cubic feet.
The papers include a monograph entitled "Silas Deane, a Neglected Connecticut Patriot."


Temple University Libraries
Special Collections
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In the Benjamin Franklin Papers, 1787, 1 item.
A forged pay voucher from September 5, 1787, authorizing payment of Silas Deane by David Rittenhouse, treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The manuscript was purportedly signed by Benjamin Franklin, but it is actually a forgery by Joseph Cosey.


University of Virginia Library
Special Collections Department, Alderman Library
Charlottesville, VA
Papers: In the Mann Page Papers, 1779, 1 item.
A letter from Mann Page to Francis Lightfoot Lee written on February 8, 1779. Mann Page writes regarding Silas Deane's defense of his conduct in France, published in the Pennsylvania Packet, December 5, 1778.


University of Virginia Library
Tracy W. McGregor Library
Charlottesville, VA
Papers: In the Richard Henry Lee Papers, 1779, 1 item.
A letter from Richard Henry Lee to Arthur Lee written on August 12, 1779.


Yale University
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: In the Humphreys-Marvin-Olmstead Collection, 1776-1867, 3 linear feet.
Subjects covered include Silas Deane. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.

Papers: In the Johnson Family Papers, 1769-1886, 10.5 linear feet.
The papers include correspondence between William Samuel Johnson and Silas Deane. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository. The papers are also available on microfilm.

Papers: In the Samuel Blachley Webb Papers, 1756-1819, 7 linear feet.
Correspondents include Silas Deane. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.


Yale University
Law Library
New Haven, CT
Papers: In the Thomas Seymour Account Book, 1756-1774, 1 volume.
The account book includes an account for Silas Deane.

  • Deane, Silas. An Address to the Free and Independant [sic] Citizens of the United States of North-America. Hartford, Conn.: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1784.
  • ___. The Deane Papers. 5 vols. Edited by Charles Isham. New York: New-York Historical Society, 1886-90.
  • ___. The Deane Papers; Correspondence Between Silas Deane, His Brothers and Their Business and Political Associates, 1771-1795. Hartford, Conn.: Connecticut Historical Society, 1930.
  • ___. Paris Papers; or, Mr. Silas Deane's Late Intercepted Letters to his Brothers, and Other Intimate Friends, in America. To Which are Annexed for Comparison, the Congressional Declaration of Ind[e]pendency in July 1776, and That Now Inculating Among the Revolted Provinces, With the Never-to-be-forgotten Orders of the Rebel General in August 1776, for Preventing a Pacification. New York: Re-printed by James Rivington, [1782].
  • Flegal, Fred G. "Silas Deane: Revolutionary or Profiteer?" M. A. Thesis, Western Michigan University, 1976.
  • Halsted, Janet G. "Silas Deane: Intelligence Agent and Ambassador from the Continental Congress," M. A. Thesis, Southern Connecticut State University, 1999.
  • James, Coy Hilton. "The Revolutionary Career of Silas Deane." Ph.D. Diss., Michigan State University, 1956.
  • ___. Silas Deane, Patriot or Traitor? East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1975.