George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Silas Deane, 12 August 1778

From Silas Deane

Philadelphia August 12th 1778

Dear sir

I had the pleasure of receiving your polite & Freindly Letter of the 25th Ulto but Three days ago, and Col. Bannister informing me, he should set out in a Day, or Two, for the Army,1 prevented my instantly writing to tell you, how happy I am to find that my Conduct has met your Approbation, & how much I consider myself honored by it. next to the satisfaction which rises from a consciousness, of having faithfully and successfully served one’s Country, a Satisfaction, which no one in the world can enjoy to a greater degree than Yourself, a generous mind must ever esteem that, which flows from the approbation of Persons, of your distinguished character, and merit. my design is to reimbark for France in a few Months, but whither in a public Character, or not, is uncertain. I have not as yet learned, except from The information of my Freinds in private, what were the reasons for my being recalled, and though I have understood by their and by the general Conversation of others that it is expected, that I return to France in a public Character yet as the Affairs I was engaged in, for the public, which I was obliged to leave unsettled, oblige me to return, though it should be in a private Character, I have not been sollicitous about the resolutions that may be taken on the Subject. The reception of the French Minister and other affairs, which have engaged the Attention of Congress since my return has prevented my having a public Audience, but I expect One in a few Days,2 after which I shall do myself the honor, of paying you a Visit at Head Quarters, and am in hopes that his Excellency Mr Gerard will visit you at the same Time; he is very desirous of an Opportunity of paying personally his respects to one, for whom he, as well as his Nation, & I may add, all the brave and generous in Europe have the highest Esteem. I promise myself the pleasure of communicating many things in a personal Conversation which may be agreeable and entertaining to You, but which cannot so well be put into a Letter; meantime I have taken the Liberty of enclosing the Copies, of a Letter from Mr De Vergennes to the President of Congress, of one from him to Me, & of one from Docr Franklin to the President.3 I send them because I think it will be agreeable to You to find that the Sentiments entertained of Me by his Majesty & the Court of France, & by Our mutual Freind have been similar to those which you have honored Me with. I most sincerely congratulate You on the favorable prospects before Us, happily oweing to the perseverance, and bravery of your Army, in a principal degree, and though I have not had the honor of sharing with You the dangers & the honors of the Feild; yet no one has, or can ever be more sensibly affected, & interested by both the one, & The other, in hopes that I shall soon have the honor of waiting on You in person, I am with the most sincere respect & Esteem Your Excellencys most Obedt & Very humle servt

Silas Deane


1Congress added John Banister to the committee of arrangement on 10 Aug., and he wrote St. George Tucker on 11 Aug. that he intended to leave for camp the next day. However, he apparently did not leave until after 15 Aug., as he was recorded in a number of votes on that date ( JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 11:769, 794–97, 800; Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 10:422).

2Deane was introduced at Congress on 15 Aug. and was then requested to appear again on 17 Aug. “to give, from his memory, a general account of his whole transactions in France, from the time of his first arrival, as well as a particular state of the funds of Congress, and the commercial transactions in Europe, especially with Mr. Beaumarchais” ( JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 11:799, 801).

3Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes (1717–1787), was the French secretary of state for foreign affairs, 1774–86. Translations of his letters of 26 Mar. to Deane and to Henry Laurens are in DLC:GW, as is a copy of Benjamin Franklin’s letter to Laurens of 31 March. Both of the letters from Vergennes expressed the French king’s “satisfaction” with Deane’s conduct. Franklin testified “that I esteem him a faithful active & able Minister who to my knowledge has done in various ways great & important Services to his Country.”

Index Entries