Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Vaughan, 31 August 1797

To Benjamin Vaughan

Monticello Aug. 31. 97.

Dear Sir

I have to acknolege the reciept of your favor of July 20. and have read with great pleasure the piece it contained. I have just heard too of the publication of a pamphlet which I had expected with impatience, as I am sure it will convey to the world some truths which require some caution in their conveyance. The mind of the people is not prepared to recieve them abruptly. Your manner is well calculated to form the point of an entering wedge, and I am in hopes that the activity of your mind will render your residence among us an epoch which will be marked.   The season is now so far advanced that we can hardly expect that your curiosity may lead you to make a circuit thro’ any considerable part of our states: but the ensuing summer may induce you to take some survey of them. Should your course lead this way I shall be happy in receiving and possessing you here whatever time you can spare to us. I am with sentiments of sincere esteem & respect Dear Sir Your most obedt. and most humble servt.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. James Martin” (see below). Enclosed in TJ to John Vaughan, 31 Aug. 1797.

For TJ’s erroneous supposition that Benjamin Vaughan had written to him as “James Martin,” see the favor of James Martin to TJ of 20 July 1796; TJ to John Vaughan, 11 Sep. 1797; and TJ to Martin, 23 Feb. 1798. TJ’s mistake is easily explained, for Benjamin Vaughan, who generally published his writings anonymously or under a pseudonym, had begun to use the name John or Jean Martin as an alias in 1794, when, frightened by Home Office inquiries into correspondence between him and French-sponsored agents in Britain, he fled England for France. Living under the ficticious name in France and Switzerland, Vaughan used letters of recommendation from Monroe and Thomas Paine to obtain a French passport, then joined his family in New England during the summer of 1797. Perhaps compounding TJ’s confusion was the fact that James Martin had written to him from Jamaica, Long Island, and by coincidence the Vaughan family had strong associations with the island of Jamaica, Benjamin Vaughan’s birthplace (Craig C. Murray, Benjamin Vaughan (1751–1835): The Life of an Anglo-American Intellectual [New York, 1982], 336–41, 349–50, 361, 373, 381; George S. Rowell, “Benjamin Vaughan—Patriot, Scholar, Diplomat,” Magazine of History, xxii [1916], 44, 51–2).

The pamphlet has not been identified.

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