Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 14 August 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 14 August 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia August 14. 1777 Thursday

We are still parching under the fierce Heats of Dog days. It is agreed, by most People, that so long and so intense a Heat has scarcely been known. The Day before Yesterday, Dr. Ewing an eminent Philosopher as well as Mathematician, and Divine told me, the Spirit in his Glass, was at 91 in his cool Room, and from thence he concludes that it was above an hundred abroad in the Shade, because he says it is generally ten degrees lower, in his cool Room, than it is in the Shade out of Doors. Yesterday, it was at 94, abroad in the Shade. He placed his Thermometer, against a Post which had been heated by the Sun, and the Spirit arose to an 100, but removing it to another Place, and suspending it at a distance from any warm Object and the Spirit subsided and settled at 94.—How we shall live through these Heats I dont know.

If Howes Army is at Sea, his Men between Decks will suffer, beyond Expression. Persons, here, who have been at Sea, upon this Coast, at this Season of the Year, say, the Heat is more intollerable, on Shipboard than on Land. There is no Comfort to be had any where, and the Reflection of the Sun Rays from the Deck, are insufferable.

I wish this Wiseacre may continue to coast about untill an equinoctial Storm shall overtake him. Such a Thing would make fine Sport for his Fleet.

The Summer is consuming, and there is not Time enough left, for accomplishing many Things. If he should land tomorrow, it would take him three Weeks to reach Philadelphia. On the Jersey Side of the Delaware, is an ugly Road for him—many Rivers, Bridges, Causeys, Morasses, by breaking up of which, a Measure which is intended, and for which Preparations are made, his Army might be obstructed, puzzled and confounded in their March. His Army cannot proceed with-316out many Horses, Waggons, and Cannon with their Carriages, for the Passage of which he must make new Bridges and Causeys, which would consume much Time, besides that he would be exposed, to the Militia and to the regular Army. On the other side the River there are several Streams and one large River to cross—the Schuylkill. And We have many fine Fire ships to annoy his Fleet. It would be happy for Us if he should aim at this Place, Because it would give Us an Opportunity of exerting the whole Force of the Continent against him. The Militia of the Jerseys, Pensilvania, Delaware and Maryland, would cooperate with Washington here—those of N.Y. and N. England with Gates.

Writing this Letter, at Six o Clock in the Morning in my cool Chamber has thrown me into a profuse and universal sweat.

RC (Adams Papers).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 August 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 August 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia Aug. 15. 1777

The Weather continues, as hot as ever. Upon my Word I dont know how to sustain it. Oh for a Bowl of your Punch, a Bottle of your Cyder, or something or other that is acid. I am obliged to have recourse to the Liquor of the Roman soldiers and put about a Wine Glass of Vinegar into a Pint of Water. You would laugh to see me pouring down a Pint of this Vinegar and Water at a Time, and admiring it as a great Refreshment.1

Nothing yet of Howes Army. It begins to be suspected that they are out at Pasture on Long Island. No further Account of the Fleet as yet. No further Account from the northern Army. If the Militia dont turn out now, and drive Burgoigne to his own Place, they deserve to suffer.

Half after 9 at Night.—The Wind blows, the Clowds gather, the lightnings Play and the Thunder rolls. You can have no adequate Idea of the Joy occasioned here by such a Scaene. They call it a Gust. Dr. Franklin in his Letters on Electricity has explained the Philosophy of it.2 After a Continuance of Heat it seldom fails to occasion a Change of Weather. It is followed by a cooler and purer Air.

The hot Weather has now continued in an extreme for two Weeks together. The People here generally agree that an Heat so intense in Degree and of so long Continuance, has scarcely ever been known. Cold Water has kill'd Numbers.


But now it rains a Torrent and thunders and lightens most delightfully. It will clean our streets, it will purge our Air. It will be cool, and comfortable after this Gust.

Half after 10.—It is now a constant, plentifull Rain and the World is all of a Blaze with Lightning, and the grand Rolls of Thunder shake the very Chamber where I am. The Windows jarr, the shutters Clatter, and the floor trembles.

RC (Adams Papers).


JA was following the advice of his friend Dr. Rush on the subject of drinks in hot weather. See Benjamin Rush, Directions for Preserving the Health of Soldiers, Lancaster, 1778, first published in a newspaper in April 1777 and reprinted in Rush's Letters , 1:140–147.


See Franklin's letter to Dr. John Mitchell, 29 April 1749, published in Franklin's Experiments and Observations on Electricity, London, 1751, and subsequent editions, as “Observations and Suppositions towards forming a new Hypothesis for explaining the several Phaenomena of Thunder Gusts” (Franklin, Papers, ed. Labaree, 5:365–376).