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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Benjamin Vaughan

VAUGHAN, Benjamin, political economist, born in Jamaica, West Indies, during a temporary residence of his parents on the island, 19 April, 1751; died in Hallowell, Maine, 8 December, 1835. He was the eldest son of Samuel Vaughan, of London, a West India merchant and planter. His mother was Sarah Hallowell, daughter of Benjamin Hallowell, a merchant of Boston, Massachusetts He was educated by Dr. Priestley, and at the University of Cambridge. As early as 1778 he wrote on political subjects. He studied medicine at Edinburgh, taking his degree in May, 1781, and on 30 June married Sarah, daughter of William Manning, of London, a West India merchant and planter, grandfather Of Cardinal Manning. He became the partner of Mr. Manning, and remained with the house in active business until 1794. Through his American connections and his scientific pursuits he early became intimate with Benjamin Franklin. His relations with Franklin, his connection with Henry Laurens (whose son married Miss Manning), and his friendship with Lord Shelburne brought him into active participation in the conduct of the negotiations for peace between England and the United States in 1782. But he never assumed any official part in these negotiations. There that communications from Paris, concerning the possibilities of peace, passed from Franklin to Shelburne, through Laurens and Vaughan, as early as March, 1782, before Lord North's resignation. Late in March, after the formation of the Rockingham ministry, Lord Shelburne (then secretary for the colonies) requested Vaughan to persuade Laurens to go to Holland with his brother, William Vaughan, to ascertain from John Adams what means were necessary for peace. By sending messengers in three directions at once, Vaughan succeeded in finding Laurens, who was persuaded to undertake the mission. Fox, secretary for foreign affairs, desired to get these negotiations into his own hands, being jealous of Shelburne, and attempted to obtain the same service from Laurens, but had been forestalled by Vaughan. At the same time, being consulted by Lord Shelburne as to the best person to send to Paris to open formal negotiations with Franklin, Vaughan suggested Richard Oswald, who was at once sent to Paris crossing the channel in the same packet, with Laurens. Oswald was afterward formally commissioned negotiator for England, and returned to France ; but owing to jealousies between him and Grenville, sent by Fox, Franklin became very guarded in his intercourse, and, before Lord Shelburne became prime minister, Vaughan seems to have gone to Paris at his request to attempt to allay Franklin's suspicions. After Lord Rockingham's death, during" the formation of the Shelburne cabinet, Lord Shelburne offered Vaughan an official appointment, which he declined; but he consented to go again to Paris in July to see Franklin, to assure him of Lord Shelburne's genuine desire to conclude a peace, and to remove any obstacles arising from Fox's attack in the commons on Shelburne's sincerity. Being successful in this, he remained in Paris, at Franklin's request, and by Lord Shelburne's express desire, in order to receive certain communications which Franklin desired to make to Shelburne concerning reconciliation. This, however, the course of the negotiation rendered unnecessary, and they were never formally written out. Oswald was ignorant that Vaughan was in Paris at Shelburne's request, and, becoming jealous, he wrote Shelburne, accusing Vaughan of meddling. Diplomatic requirements prevented Shelburne from permitting Oswald to know of his independent communications through Vaughan, and from clearly explaining to him Vaughan's true position. Oswald therefore remained in ignorance (apparently through life) that during the whole transaction Vaughan was actively engaged in his work of removing obstacles to the peace on both sides, at the express desire of both parties to the negotiation. Hence the correspondence of Oswald and Shelburne gives, on both sides, an erroneous impression as to Vaughan. Vaughan became well acquainted with Jay, on the latter's arrival in Paris, 23 June, and much communication between Franklin and Jay in Paris, and Shelburne in England, passed through Vaughan. On Vaughan's return to London in August, he was again requested by Shelburne to return to Paris and continue his efforts. While there, Vaughan learned of Rayneval's secret mission to England, and wrote to Shelburne concerning it, 9 September Two days later he wrote Shelburne a long letter, urging delay with Rayneval, and immediate and independent action with the colonies, and showing the importance of separating America from France, and the danger to peace of refusing to grant Jay's demand for a new commission to Oswald which should recognize the independence of the United States at once, instead of reserving independence to be one of the terms of the treaty itself. Following his letter to England a few hours later, at the urgent request of Jay, he had an interview with Shelburne, and, being asked " whether a new commission was absolutely necessary," renewed his assurance that it was. The new commission was made out, and Vaughan was desired by Shelburne to return to France immediately. He set out at once, taking with him in his chaise from London the royal messenger with the new commission, which recognized in its wording the independence of the United States of America. Vaughan remained in Paris during October and part of November, becoming acquainted with Adams, the fourth commissioner, who arrived in Paris on 25 October, and being the medium of much informal communication between the negotiators on both sides, especially concerning the refugees. In November he again returned to London, but was desired by Shelburne to go back to Paris. At this time Shelburne appears to have been dissatisfied with his course; and the king, to whom Vaughan's letters were submitted along with the official despatches, also expressed dissatisfaction at his stay. But the result of his work seems to have justified his course, for Franklin expressly declared that, had it not been for Vaughan's letters and conversations, he would not have signed the clause in the treaty concerning the refugees--a subject which, more than any other, threatened to wreck the whole negotiation. Shelburne must have become satisfied of this, for he again requested him to remain in Paris. Vaughan spent over seven months in these visits at Paris and in his journeys, but refused to receive any pay or even the reimbursement of his expenses From 1783 to 1794 Vaughan lived in London and in the country, with long visits to Paris, dividing his time between active business and political and scientific studies. His letters show Jeremy Bentham, Sheridan, Sir Samuel Romilly, Grey, Wilberforce, N. de Narbonne, the bishop of Autun, and many others to have been among his guests, while his general correspondence embraced an even wider circle. His intimate relations with Franklin continued unbroken during life. He had long before edited the first publication of Franklin's writings in London, and through his influence in these later years Franklin was induced to publish his memoirs. During this time Vaughan published papers under the signature of the "Calm Observer," reprinted in book-form (London, 1793), and translated into French and German. He was returned to parliament in 1792, and remained in the house nearly two years. He was opposed to any attempt to disturb the existing form of government in his own country; but as the French revolution developed, the popular tide in England set strongly against those men who had shown sympathy with its earlier stages, and more rigorous laws were demanded against those suspected of sympathizing with what were called revolutionary ideas. Vaughan, from his place in parliament, was well known to Pitt as one of the active opponents of the administration. Under these circumstances he decided to leave England for the continent until times had again become settled, and accordingly in 1794 he went to France, and afterward to Switzerland. While in France he was several times suspected of being an English spy. In Switzerland he devoted himself to political correspondence and literary pursuits. He was assured by Pitt that he could at any time return to England with safety, but he had become so much interested in republican principles that he determined to live in the United States. He accordingly went direct to Boston, and lived for a short time at Little Cambridge (now Brighton), whence he removed to Maine, and settled on lands descended to him from his mother, Sarah Hallowell, on Kennebec river, in what is now the town of Hallowell. Here he spent the remainder of his life, improving his estate, advocating conservative political views, working in his library, writing literary and political articles, and carrying on an extensive correspondence. Here, for the first time, he practised his profession, visiting only among the poor, and usually supplying medicines as well as advice without charge. Besides the articles written in England on political and scientific subjects, he also published, under the title of "Klyogg, or the Rural Socrates," the result of his researches in Switzerland, concerning the life of James Gouyer, the agricultural philosopher (Hallowell, Maine, 1806). At Hallowell he published anonymously various political articles, and also prepared two historical papers at President Adams's request--one concerning the northeast boundary, the other giving the writer's surmises of the manner in which Turgot's memoirs came into the possession of Lord Shelburne several years before their publication. All that he wrote was either published anonymously, or over a fictitious signature, or was not written for publication, and his literary labors have remained generally unknown. He was an indefatigable worker, and spent much of his time during his later life among his books, which, when he came to Hallowell, were fewer by only two thousand than the library of Harvard college at that time. He received the honorary degree of LL. D. from Harvard in 1807, and from Bowdoin in 1812.--His brother, Charles, merchant, born in England, 30 June, 1759; died in Hallowell, Maine, 15 May, 1839, after" spending some years in Jamaica, came to the United States in 1786, and settled in Hallo-well. He had charge of large tracts of land owned by his father and by his maternal grandfather, Benjamin Hallowell, and devoted himself to encouraging the settlement of the Kennebec region. In furtherance of this object he visited England in the autumn of 1790, and spent several months in establishing business relations with merchants in London and other ports. Returning in June, 1791, he married, in Boston, Frances Western Apthorp, established himself there as a merchant, and had for several years an extensive trade with ports of England and of the East and West Indies, exporting chiefly the products of the Kennebec region. He was one of the trustees of Hallowell academy, incorporated in 1791, and one of the founders of the Boston library society, incorporated in 1794. He built, in Hallowell, houses, mills, stores, a distillery, a brewery, and a printing-office, and established a seaport at Jones's Eddy, near the mouth of the Kennebec, where he con-strutted a costly wet dock for ship-timber. In Boston he was associated with Charles Bulfinch (his brother-in-law) and William Scollay, in the important Franklin street improvement in 1798, where they drained and graded a boggy pasture, and built a block of sixteen houses, known as the "Crescent," which was the first brick block erected in Boston. A semi-oval space was inclosed in the middle of the street, which Mr. Vaughan, conveying in 1791 a part of his interest in the block, provided should forever remain unoccupied by buildings. Meeting with serious reverses in 1798, he surrendered his property to his creditors, and in 1799 returned to Hallowell, engaged actively in agricultural pursuits, being also employed as agent for large non-resident owners of land in various parts of Maine, and devoted his energies to promoting the prosperity of the region. His importations of horned cattle, sheep, and swine, of the most approved breeds, as well as of choice varieties of wheat and other seeds, had a marked influence in the development of the agricultural and stock-breeding interests of Maine.

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