Skip navigation
Silas Deane
Silas Deane
American, 1737 - 1789
Biography: Silas Deane was born 24 December 1737 in Groton, Connecticut. His father, also named Silas Deane, was a blacksmith in Groton. He graduated from Yale College in 1758, and he was admitted to the bar in 1761. In 1762, Deane relocated to Wethersfield, Connecticut, where he met Mehitable Webb, widow of Joseph Webb. They married in 1763, and in 1764 they had a son, Jesse Deane. Silas Deane built his home in Wethersfield, next door to the Webb family home; the home was completed in about 1766, but Mehitable Webb Deane died in 1767. In 1769, Silas Deane married Elizabeth Saltonstall Evards from New London, also a wealthy widow. Silas Deane was actively involved in the movements in Connecticut that preceeded the Revolutionary War. From 1774 to 1776, he was a Connecticut delegate to the Continental Congress. Deane was sent to France on a secret mission to secure troops, arms, and supplies in 1776. He became, along with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, one of the regularly accredited commissioners to France from Congress. While Deane was in France, his wife Elizabeth died, and then, in November 1777, he was recalled by Congress to face charges of misappropriation of government funds. In America, Deane was defended by John Jay and John Adams. After stating his case to Congress, he was allowed to return to Paris in 1781 to settle his affairs. He retired to the Netherlands until after the peace treaty with England was signed, and then he settled in England. He had expended his fortune trying to clear his name. In 1789, Deane decided to go to Canada. The night before his departure from England, on 23 September 1789, Silas Deane died aboard ship in Deal Harbour. No evidence of Deane's dishonesty was ever discovered, and in 1842, the United States Congress recognized the validity of his claim of innocence by voting a payment of $37,000 to his heirs.