Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Bondfield, 15 January 1781

To John Bondfield

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy, 15. Jany. 1781.


In Case Mr. John Vaughan should present himself before you to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America; this is to request and authorise you, to administer the same to him.8

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant

(signed) B.F.

Mr. J. Bondfield.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8John Vaughan (XXVI, 53, 56, 512–13), unable to find sufficient work at Bordeaux and desiring to improve his Spanish, had recently decided to move to Cadiz and needed BF’s help. He addressed his letters on this topic to WTF, and we summarize their correspondence here. On Dec. 23, he explained his intentions and asked that BF send him a passport (APS). WTF answered on Jan. 14 (Library of Congress) that Vaughan would first have to sign an oath of allegiance, which he was enclosing along with a note from BF to Bondfield (the present letter) instructing him to administer it. Vaughan delayed answering until he had consulted his family, fearing that the news of his defection, which would surely reach Britain, might be used to injure them. By March 10, when he next wrote WTF (APS), he had received their reply. They had concurred, but in the meantime the Spanish consul suggested that he go instead to Madrid, for which he did not need a passport. He hoped this change would not offend BF, and insisted that he would take American citizenship eventually. (He sent a duplicate of this letter on March 24: APS.) On March 29, WTF reassured him that they thought his conduct “prudent and sagacious,” and enclosed a letter of introduction to “our Friends at Madrid” (Library of Congress). On April 7, a much-relieved Vaughan announced that he was settling his affairs as quickly as possible and would leave in a few days, hoping to catch up with Henry Brockholst Livingston (XXX, 555–6n), who was leaving for Madrid that day (APS).

Index Entries