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Perspective: The Founders In A New Light

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
"Writing the Declaration of Independence" (detail)

It was September 1776, just two months after the American colonies had declared their independence from Britain. British naval commander Richard Howe demanded a meeting. Perhaps the Americans wanted to change their minds about their rash decision. 


A small delegation was chosen to travel to Staten Island to meet Howe on his ship. Among them were John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. 


Adams was the 40-year old Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress and would become the second U.S. president. At 70, Franklin was a legendary politician, diplomat, and scientist. These two men were destined to become Founding Fathers. 


But they were also two guys who had to share a bed in a room in a crowded inn. Adams later recounted that as they were retiring for the night, he moved to close the window. Franklin strenuously objected. A strong believer in fresh air at night, he was convinced that people caught cold from one another when the windows were closed. 


Adams said he was afraid of the night air. Franklin instructed Adams to come to bed so he could explain the dangers of a closed room and, as they lay side by side with the window open, he did just that. Adams reported that he was soon asleep.  


The next day, resolute, united, and presumably well rested, they told Lord Howe that the Declaration of Independence was not a mistake. They mounted their horses for the long trek back to Philadelphia. 


I’m Deborah Boothand that’s my perspective. 


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