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Silas Deane: murdered by an old friend?
Silas Deane was a man of promise, he came from humble origins, but he rose to great heights. However, he did fall from respect, and lived out his life thought to be a traitor and a cheat. He died in an unusual manner, however. On the deck of the ship that would bring him back to America for the first time in over a decade, he fell extremely ill and died. Silas Deane was murdered by a certain Dr. Bancroft. This is not definite by any means, but it is the most probable cause of his death. The murder of Silas Deane protected Bancroft, and so shows the motive of the murderer, and his circumstances show his ability to perform the act.
Dr. Bancroft was an American spy and the personal secretary of Deane while Deane was in France working for the United States. However, it is now known that Bancroft was a double agent, actually working for England. Deane knew this as well, presenting a possible danger to Bancroft. Silas Deane remained friends with Bancroft throughout his life, providing Bancroft the ability to make sure that Deane would not decide to sell out his friends to get back under the good graces of the American People by exposing a double agent. However, this would have changed when Deane decided to return to America with the help of his brother. This made it so that Bancroft could no longer watch over Deane to make sure he did not attempt to sell him out. Thus, Bancroft saw it as an opportunity to eliminate the threat entirely.
This is not as improbable as it might sound. Bancroft, for instance, was perfectly positioned for all of this to happen. According to Bancroft himself, he assisted him “with advice, medicins, and money for his subsistence.” These “medicins” as Bancroft puts it, might not be as innocent as they might appear. Bancroft, earlier in his life, published a book about wildlife in the tropical land of Guiana. A large part of that book was the...
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