Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

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).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 August 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 August 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia August 17. 1777 Sunday

Yesterday We had a cool Day, the Wind Easterly and cloudy, this Morning there is a brisk northeast Wind and cool Rain, which restores Us, to some Comfort. A Number of People died here with excessive Heat, besides others, who fell Sacrifices to their own Imprudence in drinking cold Water.

This Wind will oblige the Knight Errant and his Fleet, to go somewhere or other. We have had no Intelligence of it, since last Thursday week.

We have a Letter from General Schuyler, in which he “is not insensible of the Indignity of being call'd away, when an Action must soon take Place.” But I hope, the People will not resent this Indignity, so as not to turn out. General Gates I hope, will be able to find Men, who will stand by him. Never was there a fairer opportunity, than now presents of ruining Burgoigne. By the same Letter, We have confused Hints, that an Attack has been made upon Fort Schuyler, and the Enemy repulsed.1 The Letter seems to suppose, that he had written a fuller Account of it before.—But no such Account has reached Us.

The Enemy at Niagara and Detroit, are endeavouring to seduce the Indians, to take up the Hatchet, but as yet, with little success. They seem determined to maintain their Neutrality.


I read a Letter2 last Evening directed to Mr. Serjeant, and in his Absence to me from Mr. Clark a Delegate from N. Jersey who is gone Home to Elizabeth Town for his Health, giving a particular Account of Howes Army, in their late precipitate Retreat from Westfield. They were seized with the Utmost Terror, and thrown into the Utmost Confusion. They were so weak and sickly, and had gorged themselves so with fresh Meat, that they fell down in the Roads, many died, and were half buried, &c. &c. &c.

We have many new Members of Congress, among whom are Mr. Vandyke of Delaware, Mr. Jones of Virginia, and Mr. Lawrence Laurens of S. Carolina. This last Gentleman is a great acquisition—of the first Rank in his State, Lt. Governor, of ample Fortune, of great Experience, having been 20 Years in their assembly, of a clear Head and a firm Temper, of extensive Knowledge, and much Travel. He has hitherto appeared as good a Member, as any We ever had in Congress. I wish that all the States would imitate this Example and send their best Men. Vandyke is a Lawyer, and a very worthy Man, his Abilities very good and his Intensions very sincere. Mr. Jones also is a Lawyer, but has so lately come in that We have seen as yet no Exhibitions of him.

RC (Adams Papers).


Schuyler to Congress, Albany, 10 Aug., read in Congress on the 16th ( JCC , 8:647). The original is in PCC, No. 153, III, and reported the action of 6 Aug. now known as the battle of Oriskany, in which the New York militia under Brig. Gen. Nicholas Herkimer inflicted heavy losses on a body of British, tories, and Indians under Sir John Johnson, near Fort Schuyler (formerly Fort Stanwix, on the site of present Rome, N.Y.).


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