That Time Ben Franklin Slept within the Identical Mattress With John Adams
Let us be grateful that it will not be 1776 when we travel again.
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March 30, 2021 4 min read
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Imagine two of the founding fathers of our country – one of them is 41 years old, the other 70 – sharing a single bed on a cool night in the fall of 1776. Yes it happened. And it wasn’t nice.
The younger man was John Adams, who would become our nation’s second president in 21 years. His roommate for the evening was none other than the eminent scientist, publisher, and statesman Benjamin Franklin. Both – along with another delegate appointed by the Continental Congress – had traveled from Philadelphia to Staten Island to participate in failed peace talks with a British admiral after American troops led by General George Washington narrowly escaped a catastrophic battle on Long Island.
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Today a trip from Philly to Long Island, which I have done many times, only takes a few hours. But in 1776 that trip took days and was long enough that the group was forced to stop overnight at a tavern in Piscataway, New Jersey. The inn was full that night and there were only two rooms available. Adams and Franklin decided to share a bed in a room with no fireplace and only a small window. And then the fun began.
According to David McCullough’s biography of the second president, the two men “argued violently” over whether or not to keep a window open that night. “The window was open and I, being an invalid and afraid of the air at night, closed it,” Adams wrote in his diary. “Oh! Says Franklin, don’t close the window. We’ll suffocate. I replied, I’m afraid of the evening air. Dr. Franklin replied that the air in this chamber will soon be and is actually worse now than the one without doors: come on.” ! open the window and come to bed. “
The two men argued back and forth over the terms, with Adams citing his fragile nature and Franklin referring the younger man to his own “Theory of Colds,” which stated, “Nobody ever got a cold going to a cold church or another went. ” cold air. “Finally the two men agreed not to agree, and Adams fell asleep to the sound of Franklin’s” Harrangue, on air and cold and breathing and sweat “.
So there you have it: our two founding fathers, both overweight, unwashed, and likely snoring in New Jersey for a night with the windows open in the same bed while they’re on their way to save the nation. As we all know, the mission failed. The war lasted until its official end in 1783. Nobody knows if the two men ever shared a bed again.
The recent pandemic brought business travel to a standstill. But now the travel industry is slowly recovering, and both passenger traffic and hotel bookings are steadily increasing. It’s good. But do you know what else is good? Air conditioned rooms. Clean sheets. Hot water. Seat belts.
Today’s working people rarely have to share a room, only a single bed. We cover miles in hours, not days. We travel relatively comfortably and in planes, trains and vehicles with air conditioning, internet access and airbags. We stay in hotel rooms that are palaces compared to 18th century New Jersey inns. And yet we complain.
Relatives: It was then that Julius Caesar was kidnapped and insisted that his kidnappers raise their ransom
We should always be grateful for the sacrifices Franklin, Adams, and all of the Founding Fathers made to build our great country. But it is just as important to think of the two who share a bed on a work trip. That image alone should also please us for the times we live in, even when our flights are delayed or we have to stand in line to check into our hotels. Because those times are coming back very, very soon.
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