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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 44 of 53, 9 - 17 September 1776


human Body, by his Respiration and Perspiration, destroys a gallon of Air in a minute that two such Persons, as were now in that Chamber, would consume all the Air in it, in an hour or two: that by breathing over again the matter thrown off, by the Lungs and the Skin, We should imbibe the real Cause of Colds, not from abroad but from within. I am not inclined to introduce here a dissertation on this Subject. There is much Truth I believe, in some things he advanced: but they warrant not the assertion that a Cold is never taken from cold air. I have often conversed with him since on the same subject: and I believe with him that Colds are often taken in [illegible foul Air, in close Rooms: but they are often taken from cold Air, abroad too. I have often asked him, whether a Person heated with Exercise, going suddenly into cold Air, or standing still in a current of it, might not have his Pores suddenly contracted, his Perspiration stopped, and that matter thrown into the Circulations or cast upon the Lungs which he acknowledged was the Cause of Colds. To this he never could give me a satisfactory Answer. And I have heard that in the Opinion of his own able Physician Dr. Jones he fell a Sacrifice at last, not to the Stone but to his own Theory; having caught the violent Cold, which finally choaked him, by sitting for some hours at a Window, with the cool Air blowing upon him.
The next Morning We proceeded on our Journey, and the Remainder of this Negotiation, will be related from the Journals of Congress, and from a few familiar Letters, which I wrote to my most intimate Friends before and after my Journey. The abrupt uncouth freedom of these, and all others of my Letters, in those days require an Apology. Nothing was farther from my Thoughts, than that they would ever appear before the Public. Oppressed with a Load of Business, without a Clerk an Amanuensis, or any Assistance, I was obliged to do every Thing myself. For seven Years before this I had never been without three Clerks in my Office as a Barrister: but now I had neitherno Secretary nor servant whom I could trust to write: and every thing must be copied by myself, or be hazarded without any. The few that I

wrote upon this Occasion I copied; merely to assist my memory as Occasion might demand.
There were a few Circumstances which appear neither in the Journals of Congress nor in my Letters, which may be thought by some worth preserving. Lord How had sent over an Officer as an Hostage for our Security. I said to Dr. Franklin, it would be childish in Us to depend upon such a Pledge and insisted on taking him over with Us, and keeping our  [illegible Surety on the same side of the Water with Us. My Colleagues exulted in the Proposition and agreed to it instantly. We told the Officer, if he held himself under our direction he must go back with Us. He bowed Assent, and We all embarked in his Lordships Barge. As We approached the Shore his Lordship, observing Us, came down to the Waters Edge to receive Us, and looking at the Officer, he said, Gentlemen, you make me a very high Compliment, and you may depend upon it, I will consider it as the most sacred of Things. We walked up to the House between Lines of Guards of Grenadiers, looking as fierce as ten furies, and making all the Grimaces and Gestures and motions of their Musquets with Bayonets fixed, which which I suppose military Ettiquette requires but which We neither understood nor regarded.
The House had been the Habitation of military Guards, and was as dirty as a stable: but his Lordship had prepared a large handsome Room, by spreading a Carpet of Moss and green Spriggs from Bushes and Shrubbs in the Neighbourhood, till he had made it not only wholesome but romantically elegant, and he entertained Us with good Claret, good Bread,cold Ham, Tongues and Mutton.
I will now proceed to relate the Sequel of this Conference, 1stfrom the Journal of Congress. 2d from the Letters written to some of my friends at the time: and 3dly a Circumstance or two which are not preserved in the Journals or Letters.
The Committee appointed to confer

with Lord Howe, having returned made a verbal Report.
Ordered that they make a report in Writing as soon as conveniently they can.
The Committee appointed to confer with Lord Howe,agreable to the order of Congress, brought in a report in Writing, which was read as follows:
In Obedience to the orders of Congress, We have had a meeting with Lord Howe. It was on Wednesday last upon Staten Island, opposite to Amboy, where his Lordship received and entertained Us, with the Utmost politeness.
His Lordship opened the Conversation by Acquainting Us, that,tho' he could not treat with Us as a Committee of Congress, yet, as his Powers enabled him to confer and consult with any private Gentlemen of Influence in the Colonies, on the means of restoring Peace, between the two Countries, he was glad of this Opportunity of conferring with Us, on that Subject, if We thought ourselves at Liberty to enter into a Conference with him in that Character. We observed to his Lordship, that, as our Business was to hear, he might consider Us, in what Light he pleased, and communicate to Us, any propositions he might be authorised to make, for the purpose mentioned; but that We could consider Ourselves in no other Character than that, in which We were placed, by order of Congress. His Lordship then entered into a discourse of considerable Length, which contained no explicit proposition of Peace, except one, namely, That the Colonies should return to their Allegiance and Obedience to the Government of Great Britain. The rest consisted principally of Assurances, that there was an exceeding good disposition in the King and his Ministers, to make that Government easy to Us, with intimations, that, in case of our Submission, they would cause the Offensive Acts of Parliament to be revised, and the Instructions to Ministers to be reconsidered; that so, if any just causes of complaint were found in the Acts, or any Errors of in Government were perceived to have crept into the Instructions, they might be amended or withdrawn.
We gave it, as our Opinion to his Lordship, that a return to the domination of Great Britain, was not now to be expected. We mentioned the repeated humble petitions of the Colonies to the King and Parliament, which had been treated with Contempt, and answered only by additional Injuries; the Unexampled Patience We had shewn, under

their tyrannical Government, and that it was not till the late Act of Parliament, which denounced War against Us, and put Us out of the Kings Protection, that We declared our Independence; that this declaration had been called for, by the People of the Colonies in general; that every colony had approved of it, when made, and all now considered themselves as independent States, and were settling or had settled their Governments accordingly; so that it was not in the Power of Congress to agree for them, that they should return to their former dependent State; that there was no doubt of their Inclination for peace, and their Willingness to enter into a treaty with Britain, that might be advantageous to both Countries; that, though his Lordship had at present, no power to treat with them as independent States, he might, if there was the same good disposition in Britain, much sooner obtain fresh Powers from thence, for that purpose, than powers could be obtained by Congress, from the several Colonies to consent to a Submission.
His Lordship then saying, that he was sorry to find, that no Accommodation was likel like to take place, put an End to the Conference.
Upon the whole, it did not appear to your Committee, that his Lordships commission contained any other Authority, than that expressed in the Act of Parliament, namely, that of granting Pardons, with such exceptions as the Commissioners shall think proper to make, and of declaring America or any part of it, to be in the Kings Peace, upon Submission: for as to the Power of enquiring into the State of America, which his Lordship mentioned to Us, and of conferring and consulting with any Persons the Commissioners might think proper, and representing the result of such conversation to the Ministry, who, provided the Colonies would subject themselves, might, after all, or might not at their pleasure, make any Alterations in the former Instructions to Governors, or propose in Parliament any Amendment of the Acts complained of, We apprehended any expectations from the Effects of such a Power would have been too uncertain and precarious to be relied on by America, had she still continued in her State of dependence.
Ordered that the foregoing Report, and also the Message from Lord Howe as delivered by


Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 44 of 53 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 3. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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