Twenty years before he was our second President, and ten years before he was Vice President for George Washington for his two terms, John Adams was an active delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses. On January 9, 1777, he left his family and home in Dedham, Massachusetts to journey to Baltimore, MD.
On horseback. In the snow, ice, rain and cold. He was 42.
During his journey, he went through Hartford, Farmington, Southington, Waterbury, Woodbury, New Milford, New Fairfield, ‘Fish Kill’, and New Windsor. On January 20th he reached Bethlehem Orange County in New York State and expected to make better time to ‘Pensilvania’ now that mountains and rivers would no longer slow him down.
How Do We Know All This?
John and Abigail Adams were very much in love, and had a copious letter writing habit when he was off on one of his frequent travels. John had written seven times to her by the time he reached Easton . While his letters tended to be short, he always mentioned the towns and weather, and sometimes the area. His January 24th Easton letter is one of the longest. Here is the first paragraph:
“We have at last crossed the Delaware, and are agreably lodged in Easton, a little Town, situated on a Point of Land formed by the Delaware on one Side and the River Lehi, on the other. There is an elegant Stone Church here built by the Dutch People, by whom the Town is chiefly inhabited, and what is remarkable because uncommon, the Lutherans and Calvinists united to build this Church, and the Lutheran and Calvinist Minister, alternately officiate in it. There is also an handsome Court House. The Buildings public and private are all of Lime stone. -- Here are some Dutch Jews.”
(Obviously, Mr. Adams was a discerning and intelligent man, even if he was confused by the German language which still refers to its people’s nationality as “Deutsche”.)
All of John’s and Abigail’s letters are available on the Massachusetts Historical Society website at https://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/archive/letter.