To Thomas Jefferson May 1789

To Thomas Jefferson May 1789


Explanatory Circumstances [relating to the Deane affair]

First: The lost dispatches are dated October 6th and October 7th. They were sent by a private hand, that is, they were not sent by the post. Capt. Folger had the charge of them. They were all under one cover containing five separate packets. Three of the packets were on commercial matters only; one of these was to Mr. Robert Morris, chairman of the commercial committee; one to Mr. Hancock (private concerns), another to Barneby Deane, S Deane's brother. Of the other two packets, one of them was to the secret committee, then styled the Committee of Foreign Affairs; the other was to Richard H. Lee. These two last packets had nothing in them but blank white French paper.

Second: In September preceding the date of the dispatches, Mr. [Edward] B[ancroft] sent Mr. Francis to Congress to press payment to the amount mentioned in the official letter of Oct. 6. Mr. F brought a letter signed only by S Deane. The Captain of the vessel (Landais) brought another letter from Deane; both of these letters were to enforce Mr. B demand. Mr. F arrived with his letter and demand. The official dispatches (if I may say so) arrived blank. Congress had therefore no authoritative information to act by. About this time Mr. D was recalled, and arrived in America in Count D'Estain's fleet. He gave out that he had left his accounts in France.

With the treaty of alliance came over the duplicates of the lost

dispatches. They came into my office not having been seen by Congress, and as they contained an injunction not to be concealed by Congress, I kept them secret in the office because at that time the foreign committee were displaced and new members not appointed.

On the fifth of December, 1778 Mr. D___ published an inflamatory piece

against Congress. As I saw it had an exceeding ill effect out of doors, I made some remarks upon it, with a view of preventing people running wild. This piece was replied to by a piece under the signature of Plain Truth, in which it was stated that Mr. D ____ though a stranger in France and to the language, and without money had by himself procured 30,000 stand of arms, 30,000 such of clothing and more than 200 pieces of brass cannon. I replied that these supplies were in a train of execution before he was sent to France, that Mr. Deane's private letters, and his official dispatches jointly with the other two commissioners contradicted each other.

At this time I found that Deane had made a large party in Congress, and that a motion had been made but not decided upon for dismissing me from the foreign affairs with a kind of censure.