John Adams (played by Roger Rees), left and Benjamin Franklin (Orson Bean), right, during the musical “1776” at the Freud Playhouse, Sunday evening on the UCLA campus in Westwood. (Photo by Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images).
One upon a time, two bigwigs were forced to sleep in one bed. Those bigwigs were Benjamin Franklin and John Adams…you may have heard of them?
Their ordeal has gone down in history as one of the most amusing anecdotes. The noble and stately gentleman found themselves squabbling over a window. Forced to share the same bed because all the inns were full, Adams and Franklin had differing opinions about whether or not to sleep with the window open.
Just a few months before the American colonies declared independence from Great Britain, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were on their way to attend Continental Congress’s delegation. They were meeting Admiral Richard Howe of the British Royal Navy in Staten Island to discuss the possibility of ending the Revolutionary War.
As they made their way there, they stopped in New Brunswick, New Jersey for a much needed rest. The negotiating team had a hard time looking for a local tavern or inn as all of them were full. They had to settle with a “chamber” with a large bed and one small window.
The small window that became the point of issue
Adams, who was a faultily traditional, believed that an open window at night would give you colds. Franklin on the other hand, was very deductive and expository. He held firm on the night air being beneficial to the health.
Because they literally shared the same bed and only had one window, a little argument ensued with Franklin amusing Adams off to his sleep. John Adams wrote in his journals that “…began a harangue upon air and cold and respiration and perspiration” Adams conceded to Franklin (in person anyways), and the window remained open during the night. But he remained unconvinced by Franklin’s argument. He wrote: “…I was so much amused that I soon fell asleep, and left him and his philosophy together.”
Their journey continued the next day and the meeting with the British officials yielded no results. But Adam’s didn’t get sick, and the nation would go on to compromise another day.