Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Silas Deane, 20 July 1783

From Silas Deane4

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

London 20th July 1783


I have been very credibly informed that The Count De Vergennes, & others at Versailles have lately expressed, great resentment against Me personally, which gives Me the greatest uneasiness, on Account of my personal Safety at Paris, where I wish To be, To adjust & Settle my Accts.,5 the best foundation, for me to expect Justice from in other respects. I therefore request of You, to inform Me, by a Letter, if I may rely on being personally safe, & unmolested in France, and at Paris, whilst necessarily detained there, on the Settlement of my Accompts, I shall dispatch the Business, as soon as possible, & hope it will be without my giving the least Offence, to any one; I am extremely sorry to have cause to Trouble You, on this Occasion, but with strong prejudices against Me both in America, and in France, and without protectors, or patrons, to apply to, I am obliged to do it, & presume that You will see the propriety of my precaution, & request.

I have the honor to be with the most Sinere Respect & Esteem Your most Obedt. & Very humle servt.

S Deane

His Excelly. B. Franklin Esqr.

Addressed: A Monsr. / Monsr: Franklin / Minister plenipo. des / Etats Unies de L’Amerique / en France / à Passy pres de / Paris

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4As soon as the preliminaries were signed in January, Deane, in desperate financial difficulties and living in Ghent, asked Bancroft (in a nowmissing letter) to sound out the American commissioners about his intention to go immediately to London in order to recover the balance due him from a private venture. Bancroft reported on Feb. 4 that Jay had objected. Deane wrote an angry letter to Jay, to which the latter responded that he had never said “it would be taken ill” but rather cautioned Deane to consider the further risks to his reputation if he should make such a journey so soon. Deane answered on Feb. 28: now that he understood that there was no objection to his trip, he would leave very shortly. In fact, he did not arrive in London until late March. The date is impossible to pinpoint, as his reports of his arrival varied according to correspondent: Deane Papers, V, 122–4, 128, 131–2, 135–8, 142–4, 145–6, 148–50.

5Deane had been waiting for years to resolve his outstanding accounts with Congress (see XXXVII, 43–4, 76–7), a situation to which BF was sympathetic: XXXVIII, 455. Deane communicated his desperation in many of the letters cited in the note above. The fear of coming to Paris, however, was hardly new. He had wanted to stop in Paris to settle certain financial affairs before going to London, but, as he wrote on Feb. 28 in letters to Jay, Bancroft, and Chaumont, he had heard that his “person … would be in danger” if he set foot in that city, and that a “wicked and malicious” man in Brussels had written “a long letter to the Count de Vergennes, abusing me in the most outrageous manner”: Deane Papers, V, 133–4, 140, 143–4.

Thomas Barclay informed Deane on March 3 that he had received a congressional commission to settle all U.S. accounts in Europe, and recommended that they review Deane’s accounts when he returned to France. Throughout the spring, however, illness and the pressure of other affairs prevented Barclay from setting a meeting date. In July, Deane expressed to Barclay the concerns about coming to Paris that he writes here to BF (and reiterated to Barclay on Aug. 28). He may have proposed coming to Paris in the fall, as he told his brother on July 25 that he hoped to do: Deane Papers, V, 144–5, 154–7, 161–2, 179–80, 187–8.

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