April 8

This Day in History

American Revolution

Apr 8, 1778:

John Adams arrives in Paris to replace Silas Deane

Future United States President John Adams arrives in Paris, France, on this day in 1778 to replace former Continental Congress member Silas Deane as a member of the American commission representing the interests of the United States.

Deane had been recalled to America by Congress after fellow diplomat Arthur Lee accused him of misappropriating French funds. Whereas Deane was born and raised in Connecticut and educated at Yale, Arthur Lee was a Virginian following the educational and career path of the British elite when revolutionary politics intervened. The lesser-known brother of Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee, he left the colonies to enroll at the aristocratic boarding school Eton College in England. He then pursued medical studies at the prestigious University of Edinburgh in Scotland, receiving his degree in 1765. In 1766, Lee went to London and began legal studies at the equally renowned Temple Bar until 1770, when he began a legal practice in London at which he worked until the outbreak of revolution in 1776, when he was named, along with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, as an American commissioner to France.

Lee never got along with his two colleagues and instigated Deane's recall by accusing him of financial mismanagement and corruption. Deane's replacement, John Adams, was also a New Englander (although from Massachusetts and Harvard) and defended Deane. Nonetheless, Deane was unable to clear his name and was forced to live his life in exile until his death in 1789.

In 1842, Congress reopened the investigation into Deane's accounts and, finding no evidence of misconduct, ordered his heirs be paid $37,000 in reparations.

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