George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Silas Deane, 25 June 1789

From Silas Deane

London June 25th 1789


Altho no man can more sincerely rejoice on your once more receiving The highest honors, in the power of any country to confer, I still should not have Thought myself justified in requesting the least degree of your attention to me, or to any concern of mine, were not the public justice, & I may add, the honor of my Country in some degree interested. It is now more than Ten Years since I have solicited and urged for an examination of my conduct, & a settlement of my Accompts, whilst in the service of Congress.1 I have long since despaired of obtaining either; But a new system of Government being formed, & you by the unanimous voice of my Countrymen, chosen to preside, my hopes are revived, & it gives me some degree of confidence that I shall no longer solicit in vain. No length of time, can of itself cancel an obligation, much less efface from a feeling mind, those sensations which must ever rise in it, under certain circumstances. Though reduced to the extremes of poverty, & To an infirm, & precarious state of health, by what I have suffered, I shall regard the past as of little consideration, if I can now obtain what I have so long since requested. I will not Trespass farther on your time, Col. Wadsworth is in possession of the state of my case, past, & present, & to him take the Liberty to refer you & am with the most sincere respect sir yours &c.


LB, CtHi: Deane Papers.

Silas Deane returned to Europe in the mid–1780s to attempt to settle his accounts with the United States government, vindicate himself from the charges of duplicity and treason that had been brought against him by his enemies in Congress, and engage in an unsuccessful attempt to revive his mercantile and land enterprises. At this time Deane was planning to return to the United States.

1For a detailed account of Deane’s involved public accounts, see Julian Boyd, “Silas Deane: Death by a Kindly Teacher of Treason?,” in William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 16 (1959), 165–87, 319–42, 515–50. Deane also wrote to John Jay on 25 June in the same vein as his letter to GW: “It is now more than ten years since insinuations were thrown out that I was a defaulter in my pecuniary transactions whilst in the service of my country. And you must recollect that from that time I omitted nothing in my power to bring those insinuations to a direct and specific charge, that I might meet it, and that the public might, from a fair and impartial examination, have the means of coming at the truth. I have been unsuccessful, and for a long time since have despaired of ever being otherways until the present attempts to form a new and efficient, and I hope permanent, system of government have revived my hopes, so far, at least, as to expect that this subject may be taken up, examined, and decided on” (Collections of the New-York Historical Society, 23 [1890], 526–28).

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