The death of Silas Deane remains one of the most speculated deaths of modern history. A man who was going back to his home country, looking forward to pursuing new business and settling with his brother in Connecticut suddenly went from good health to death in the space of four hours. While perhaps it is possible for a man to become ill and die on such an occasion, this article looks into Deanes death critically. This paper reviews the article, answering some reflective questions.
The thesis of this article bases itself on finding out the death of Silas Deane. The intention of the article is to examine the available evidence from the death two centuries ago and come forth with a possible cause of death for the man. This paper begins with the hypothesis that the doctor was responsible for the death of Silas Deane. The paper begins by giving the argument about the strange nature of Deanes death aboard a boat in a ride that he was looking forward to. Having been away from America for some time, Silas was eager to get back home only to be found dead on deck four hours after the ship left dock. Furthermore, there was no trace of the captains report on the matter. Researchers therefore had to depend on hearsay to determine Deanes cause of death. The first part of the paper produces an argument that casts doubt on the suicide suspicions and explores the possibility that Dr. Bancroft did it.
The author makes an argument for Bancrofts possible involvement in the death of Deane by explaining the doctors special knowledge of poisons and his unique ability to prescribe such medicine to Deane. In his book, the doctor had described methods to prepare poisons used by the Indians that would be slow but sure, offering the consumer an inevitable death:
As the author has brought a considerable amount of poison to England, any gentleman whose genius may incline him to prosecute these experiments, and whose character will warrant us to confide at his hand and preparation capable of perpetrate the most secret and fatal villainy (Anderson and Anderson 100)
Furthermore, the doctor had motive to kill the man since Deane was aware of the doctors duplicitous activities during the Revolution. Mr. Deane and Dr. Bancroft were long-time friendswho were aware of the doctors periodical ruthlessness. As such, it would only be normal to point fingers towards his direction. The source of evidence that the article uses is the doctors memoirs which were published in the course of his career.
As such, they provide valid sources of research that were considered informative and useful at that time, and that would come in to supplement the viewpoints of the author. Additionally, the resources that the author uses are objective in nature and are only used to refer to the special knowledge that the doctor had. Additionally, multiple sides of the story are considered. When discussing the relationship between the doctor and Mr. Deane, the author refers to a letter where Mr. Deane had requested the doctor to prescribe something for him since he was suffering from a very difficult cough. Constant communication between the two was seen as Mr. Deane sends the doctor another letter stating that he was back in good health, albeit without taking the doctors prescription:
I am in great measure recovered from my laden indisposition but to tell you the truth, I made no use of your, nor any other prescription except drinking plentiful of bran tea sweetened with honey and confining myself to a warm chamber (Anderson and Anderson 102).
The author also presents strong evidence to point to the fact that it is possible that Mr. Deane was not murdered, but succumbed to the effects of tuberculosis. This is done by introducing excerpts from multiple letters, where Deane speaks of his ailments while communicating to different individuals, including his brother. Moreover, a number of health experts were in agreement concerning the symptoms of Deane further cementing the validity of the evidence.
The audience for this article could be a group of scholars, especially in critical thinking classes or criminal justice. This is especially in the way the case peculiarly presents itself as one of the cases that have gone unsolved after centuries. Alleged burying of evidence, large-scale malpractice and public involvement in the investigation shows some of the impediments that could come when trying to conduct an investigation.
I find that this article has espoused properly on both sides of the argument. There was a possibility that the doctor was responsible for the murder of Mr. Deane. In fact, the paper shows that there was motive and the opportunity. History equally reflects that the doctor actually murdered Deane. Nonetheless, the paper points to the possibility that Deane succumbed to an acute attack that he had after long-suffered tuberculosis. Moreover, evidence shows that Deane had suffered with tuberculosis for over eight years. Aspiration from bleeding could have been the cause of death. It has looked into both arguments and found that there were inconsistencies with the historical view based on medical evidence, and proposed another argument altogether.
In conclusion, I would not agree with the author to the point that it is not possible that the doctor would have killed Deane. However there is room for doubt as evidence suggests, there was no medicine that would have executed Deane within the timeframe in 1789. Moreover, none of the drugs that the doctor had explained could cause the effects that Deane had experienced moments before his death. From the strong basis of evidence, it is quite possible that Deane suffered an acute attack leading to his death. Nonetheless, I am convinced that Bancroft killed Deane.
Anderson, D.K. and G.T. Anderson. "The Death of Silas Deane: Another Opinion." The New England Quarterly, 57 (1) (1984): 98-105.
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