Item #List2306 Important Autograph Letter Signed from William Vernon Jr. to his Father, William Vernon Sr., Relating the News of Spain’s Engagement in War with Great Britain, 1779. Revolutionary War - Intelligence - Naval Warfare, William Jr Vernon.
[Revolutionary War - Intelligence - Naval Warfare] Vernon, William Jr.

Important Autograph Letter Signed from William Vernon Jr. to his Father, William Vernon Sr., Relating the News of Spain’s Engagement in War with Great Britain, 1779.

Bordeaux: 1779. Single page letter measuring 9 x 7 inches, fine condition. Fine. Item #List2306

When Spain joined France in the naval war with Great Britain following the Treaty of Aranjuez in 1779, it would have a significant impact in the American Revolutionary War. Offered here is a significant letter providing the news of Spain’s impending involvement, written by the Princeton-graduate turned assistant to Benjamin Franklin, William Vernon Jr., to his father in 1779. In the letter, Vernon the younger gives details on Spain’s actions, which would have a profound impact on the conflict.

The Newport, Rhode Island merchant William Vernon Sr., who engaged in the Atlantic slave trade, served as President of the Continental Naval Board during the Revolutionary War, playing a leading role in the maritime activities of the Continental Congress. His son, William Jr., was a Princeton graduate who traveled to France in 1778 with John Adams. He served for a time as Benjamin Franklin’s assistant, and with Adams helped provide the elder Vernon with military intelligence throughout the conflict. A letter from Adams to Vernon Sr. from March 16, 1780, currently in the National Archives, confirms this.

The letter reads as follows:

July 12, 1779

Honored Sir,

The enclosed packet was intended by the Buckskin, Capt. John, who very unexpectedly left it upon my hands since which several events of consequence have taken place.

The Spanish Plenipotentiary at the Court of Britain gave in a Manifesto signifying his master’s displeasure at the proceedings of the British Ministry and his orders to withdraw. The 20th of June, Lord Granthan withdrew from the Spanish Court & the 21st, war was declared against Great Britain. Two fleets have arrived at Brest from the West Indies consisting of upwards of 20 sail each under the convoy of three frigates. The British fleet consisting of 33 sail of the line under the command of Admiral [Thomas] Hardy has returned to port after remaining a few days in the Channel.

I have the pleasure to inform you that Mr. Bon’d had obtained admittance for me into the House of Freyer & Frerer; I shall enter the counting house next week. I have shipped by the General Mercer a cap containing articles to the amoung of 9.4.10 addressed to Mr. Hews. The captain attending and crying at every moment in my ear forces me to conclude this abruptly.

Your very dutiful and affectionate son - W. Vernon, Jun.

Wartime correspondence to or from either Vernon is quite uncommon, with no examples in the trade surfacing since some of Vernon the younger’s correspondence surfaced at Heritage Auctions in 2010. Vernon Jr. would cease writing to his father after 1778 and largely neglect his mercantile duties. At one point during his time in France he would nearly be killed for suspected involvement in the French Revolution.

Overall a scarce and important piece of correspondence which should be of interest to scholars of the maritime wars of the Revolutionary Period.

Price: $2,000.00