Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Vaughan, 10 June 1783

From John Vaughan8

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London June 10. 1783

Dear Sir

I am Somewhat Surprised to find your letters are of So early a date; I have recd a letter from Mr Jay to Same purport;—all I can say upon the Subject is that the Genl. letters given me, were those intended to go by Mr Jefferson two months before;9 Mr Morris gave me Some letters the morning I came away, directed If I recollect right, to Mess. Grand, Le Coulteux, & Barclay.1 I was bound to Ostend; & there were two merchant Vessels & three french frigates bound to France lying in the river, & perhaps Mr Morris reserved his letters of Intelligence for what he esteemed a Shorter conveyance. Mr Livingston did so; I received no dispatches from him. I shall be very uneasy ’till I learn from Mr Morris, wr. [whether] he did give me any letters for you posterior to the date mentioned by you.—2 This I am certain of, every thing he gave me, was put in a bag in my trunk Seperate from my other papers, & were immediately on my arrival enclosed to you by my brother Benjn. in my presence, & by him Sent to the person who carried them to Paris. As I left Philadelphia the morning after the declaration of peace,3 nothing material could have been done by Congress. The family present their most affectionate respects; they expect to Sail in a fortnight, & I propose Setting off tomorrow, in order to be there before them.4 I remain with the most unfeigned respect & esteem, Dear Sir, Your affectionate & much obliged friend & servant,

Jn Vaughan

I must beg leave to refer you to Mr Jay for what little intelligence I am master of, which I have sent (in answer to his letter) with some Newspapers.

Congress Resolved 24 April, that British Vessels should be admitted to an entry,5 as I am told by one of the Com: of American Merchants6 at this place. Ld. Daer goes on Monday next & will bring my brother’s letters & a long Bystander,7 with new Pamphlets.

Mr Spalding & his attendant have been suffocated in a diving bell off Dublin, in an attempt to recover some things out of a wreck there (the Belgioso.) He had before succeeded in getting up some of the cannon of the Royal George, on which vessel they are about making a second attempt.8

B. Franklin Esqr—

Addressed: His Excellency B. Franklin Esqr / &c: &c: / Passy / near Paris

Notation: Vaughan June 10. 1783

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In answer to BF’s of June 3. As noted below, Benjamin Vaughan added to the postscript.

9After Jefferson’s mission was canceled on April 1, he returned to Robert Morris the letters and dispatches he had planned to carry to Paris: XXX-VIII, 537, 545, 558–9n; Morris Papers, VII, 263n, 673.

1Morris’ diary confirms that on April 12 he gave Vaughan the dispatches Jefferson had returned: Morris Papers, VII, 697. For an April 12 letter to Le Couteulx & Cie., and an April 10 letter to Ferdinand Grand, see Morris Papers, VII, 698–9, 831.

2Vaughan did check and reported that Morris had indeed sent the later letters by a “more expeditious” conveyance: John Vaughan to WTF, Sept. 6, 1783, APS.

3Congress proclaimed a cessation of hostilities on April 11: XXXIX, 485n.

4See Samuel Vaughan to BF, June 14. John Vaughan’s sailing was delayed; see Falconer to BF, June 24.

5We find no such resolution. On April 16, the day after Congress ratified the preliminary articles, Dickinson ordered Pennsylvanians to forbear acts of hostility against the British. Port officials in Philadelphia soon wondered whether they could admit British ships, and this question was quickly put to Congress. On April 22 a congressional committee recommended against Congress’ taking any formal decision. The lack of action on Congress’ part was seen as tacit permission, and on April 26 a British ship at Philadelphia was unloaded: William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison, First Series (17 vols., Chicago, London, and Charlottesville, 1962–91), VI, 471–2n.

6John Vaughan ended his letter here. His brother Benjamin, whose handwriting is unmistakable, added “at this place” and squeezed in the rest of the postscript.

7Benjamin Vaughan’s article signed “A By-Stander” was so long, in fact, that it had to be serialized; see his letter (II) of June 16. He had already mentioned it in a letter to WTF of June 6, promising that “My next will inclose a Bystander” (APS).

Basil William Douglas, Lord Daer (1763–1794), was the eldest surviving son of Dunbar Douglas, fourth Earl of Selkirk: ODNB, under London Corresponding Society.

8Charles Spalding of Edinburgh and his assistant Eben. Watson were accidentally killed in Dublin Harbor on June 2. Earlier, Spalding had brought up 17 cannon from the submerged wreck of the Royal George (for whose sinking see XXXVIII, 65–6n): Gent. Mag., LIII (1783), 541–2.

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