A number of historical figures make a cameo appearance in Le Chevalier. One of these is Silas Deane.
|Silas Deane 1766|
Source: Wikimedia Commons
As I was just reading on History.com’s This Day in History, on March 3, 1776, Silas Deane was sent by the Committee of Secret Correspondence to France to negotiate for military assistance – mostly money and weapons.
In Le Chevalier, Deane doesn’t make an actual appearance, but the Marquis de Lafayette tells le Chevalier he should try to get a commission from Deane. Apparently, Deane, in an effort to win the support so desperately needed, made numerous promises to wealthy aristocrats looking to profit from the war in America.
“I am to meet General Washington in a few days,” the marquis said at last, licking a finger with a grace that made the faux pas appear acceptable.
He sipped his wine and watched pairs of dancers filter by, their hands lightly touching. “Will you come with me? Deane has granted commissions to many Frenchmen, and I am certain there would be one for you if I were to recommend you.” His dark eyes turned serious. “You know I would be happy to do so.”
As alluded to in the passage above, the Marquis’ commission was no more legitimate than the fortune hunters. But making his name wasn’t why he was there.
“What will you do if they don’t offer you a regiment to command?” she asked, trying to take her mind off her discomfort.
“Pay for one myself, I suppose,” the marquis responded, with an airy wave of his lace-covered
“Oh,” Alex replied, not knowing what else to say.
It had never occurred to her one man might have enough money to outfit and pay his own regiment.
Moreover, he was not an American. Why would he risk his fortune and his life for a cause not his own? Had she, perhaps, encountered a nobleman who deserved to be called noble?
Like a lot of Americans, Alexandra Turner has an inborn distrust of aristocracy. She spends a bit of time trying to figure out if a chevalier (the French equivalent of a knight) could be considered an aristocrat.
Sorry to digress of the cameo of Silas Deane, but his “appearance” is really no more than a mention - one that I was reminded of with the This Day in History post.
Other historical characters – the Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton play slightly larger roles. Next time This Day in History has something about them I may expound on their parts too.
All the best!