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To Benjamin Franklin from Silas Deane, 16 December 1777

From Silas Deane

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris1 16th Decemr. 1777

Dear Sir

I have seen Sir Geo. Grand who was Yesterday at Versailles, and this morning with Mons. De Sartine; I find it impossible for me to go out this Afternoon, as I must be engaged every moment in Business. I must pray you to excuse me to Marechal Maillebois. He put into my hands a Memoire of one Millin de la Brosse, which I forgot to shew you, but I sent a Letter to the Man to come and see me. The subject of the Memoire was his having been in Prison in England &c. He was charged with Dispatches for Congress last Septem: and was taken.2 I only wish that if Count Maillebois mentions his Case that he may know I have not neglected it. I shall see the Man in a Day or Two. I wish you and Mr. Chaumont would call here, on your Return from Dinner, as I have several Things to mention.3 I will have a Fire on the first Floor, to prevent interfering with any body else. I have the honor to be ever Dear Sir Your most Obedient and Very humble Servant

S. Deane

Addressed: To / The Honbl. / Benja Franklin Esq. / chez monsieur Le Comte Maillebois / a son Hotel / a Paris

Notation: Ss Deane 16 Decr to BF 77.

1“Where he had again taken up his lodgings,” Lee remarked, “reserving those of Passy too, without any notice to Mr. L.”: Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, I, 363. Deane had rented furniture in April, moved it to Passy in August, and then on Dec. 1 moved it back to lodgings in Paris on the Place Louis XV: inventory of the furnishings, July 16, 1778, APS.

2Deane writes as if this were his first contact with the man. Far from it. In July, 1776, Beaumarchais had warned Dubourg against employing La Brosse, but in September, Deane had recruited him as an American lieutenant colonel, and given him recommendations and a considerable sum of money. Stevens, Facsimiles, IX, no. 887, p. 3; Deane to Washington, Sept. 15, 1776 (later endorsed by BF as Deane’s recommendation), Library of Congress; Deane Papers, V, 307, 401, 553–4. La Brosse was captured and imprisoned in England, and apparently escaped in November, for he carried a fellow prisoner’s letter of the 15th (William Mackean to Deane, APS). The memorandum that Maillebois forwarded is also in the APS. In it La Brosse asks for 3,000 l.t. to cover his losses, for passage to America, and for letters confirming his rank. He has taken the American cause to heart, and calls to witness not only Dubourg and Carmichael but also Deane, who embraced him when he left in 1776 and said, “La Brosse, je ne vois plus en vous un François, je vous regarde comme un compatriote, comme un Americain.” He has been in service for twenty years, six as a captain, and he has won the esteem of all the Americans he has met. This memorandum went unanswered for more than two months; see his angry letter below, Feb. 20.

3Lee came too, but describes the meeting as if it had occured on the 15th. Deane told them that Sartine, presumably at his interview with Georges Grand, had offered a single frigate for convoy; the commissioners agreed that this was inadequate, and drew up a memorandum requesting a ship of the line and two frigates. Lee, op.cit., p. 363.

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