Silas Deane, Revolutionary War Diplomat and Politician


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About the Book

Silas Deane was the victim of one of the most vicious character assassination conspiracies ever carried out in the Revolutionary War era. Even after almost two and a half centuries, he remains in the eyes of many modern historians, “worse than Arnold,” his boyhood friend.
This is very wrong. Because Deane was such a capable individual in his endeavors very early in the war, he became the political target of envious others with quite different abilities and philosophies. Even so, his political strength kept growing and in 1776 Congress appointed him America’s first secret agent to secure military supplies from France for Washington’s army. This biography is written on the man himself and on the malicious and largely successful lies and intrigues by his rivals. The work does not downplay the contributions of his contemporaries, especially those of his close friend throughout, Benjamin Franklin, but shows exactly where specific credit should be placed. A lot of credit for the new nation’s success belongs to him.

About the Author(s)

Historian Milton C. Van Vlack is a retired high school history teacher and adjunct faculty member in the Connecticut State University system, specializing in American Revolutionary icons. He lives in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Bibliographic Details

Milton C. Van Vlack
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7252-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0108-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Introduction 3

I. Influences on a Connecticut Youth, 1738–1761 11

II. Lawyer, Merchant, Politician, 1761–1775 20

III. Continental Congress Connecticut Delegate, 1774–1775 40

IV. Leading Connecticut Congressional Delegate, 1775 51

V. Secret American Agent to France, 1776 83

VI. American Commissioner to France, 1776–1778 115

VII. ­Franco-­American Treaties at Last, 1778 146

VIII. Congressional Recall Debacle, 1778–1780 165

IX. Return to France, Exile and Death, 1780–1789 174

X. A Long Finale, 1789–1842 185


A: Key Personalities 189

B: Deane’s Original 1776 Instructions 195

C: Deane’s Unofficial Navy, 1775–1778 197

D: The Close Friendship Between Franklin and Deane 198

Chapter Notes 199

Bibliography 207

Index 229

Book Reviews & Awards

“Highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review.