Samuel A. Otis to John Adams
Philada. 16th Octr 1794
Agreeable to intimation I have been enquiring for accommodations for you but to no purpose unless you should like rooms in Francis’s house. It is not easy to know exactly what will be agreeable to our friends tho we may sometimes please ourselves— I have gone so far however as to engage with Francis on condition you like & wish for your immediate answer—
Francis’s house is in 4th Street near Indian Queen.
He will let you have a genteel room, front, one pair of stairs for a drawing room, & A convenient & contiguous lodging room on the same floor— Breakfast & Coffee in the afternoon in your own appartments, dine with the Gentlemen lodgers, to number of nine or ten, to be all members of Congress— To accommodate Mr Brasler with a lodging room & board—you to find your own liquor fire and Candles and pay twenty1 dollars the week for self & Sert accommodated as above to wit: Two rooms for yourself & a lodging room for Mr Brasler. You will please to observe, If you ask company to dine transiently you pay consideration pr Man. If you make a dinner specially, for which by the way there will be no occasion, you agree specially— The price & large company will be objectionable, but I suppose the members of Congress for a single room must pay 10 dollars a week & 4 or 5 for servant— You have two rooms & Valet de Chambre a lodging room. As to the Company they will be all members of Congress. If you go to private logings you will perhaps be obliged to sit down with some tradesman & wife or both— And Iz——d who is breaking up house keeping & sending off the baggage says he’ll be d——ned if he sits down to dine with a hairdresser— However I have endeavored to state matters to your view minutely and to add, tis not black Sam but the other Francis, who with wife appear to be decent kind of people, that I am in negotiation.2
The fever and ague has prevaled at New York New Jersies & thro this State and City. Intermittents also prevail, And there have been a few cases of yallow fever. People however are now pretty easy. No cases have happened of yallow fever above 2d Street, and fever & ague abates—3
Fitzsimmons will be run hard if he dont lose his election. Tis hoped however that the army will bring him in. The Legislature having provided for their voting by special statute.—4 The accounts are favorable from the west— The President being expected prior to the Session— Mrs Otis & Miss S join me in best remembrances to yourself & the ladies—5
I am / Sir / Respectfully / yours
Sam A Otis
RC (Adams Papers).
1. Otis emphasized this word by writing it significantly larger.
2. John Francis (d. ca. 1807), a Frenchman, ran a hotel on South Fourth Street with his American wife; members of Congress frequently resided there (Robert B. Ludy, Historic Hotels of the World, Past and Present, Phila., 1927, p. 115–117; Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser, 27 April 1807).
The other Francis was Samuel “Black Sam” Fraunces (ca. 1722–1795), a Philadelphia tavern keeper best known as a steward for George Washington and the one-time proprietor of Fraunces Tavern in New York City (John N. Ingham and Lynne B. Feldman, African-American Business Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary, Westport, Conn., 1994).
3. That is, most of the city west of the Delaware River and the Philadelphia waterfront.
4. On 22 Sept. the Pennsylvania state assembly approved and Gov. Thomas Mifflin signed into law a measure “to enable such of the militia of this commonwealth as may be on service, and absent from their respective countries, to vote at the next general election.” Army returns were not enough, however, to secure Thomas Fitzsimons’ reelection to Congress nor to have a significant impact in the Philadelphia area generally: “About 900 citizens of Philadelphia are with the militia; of these perhaps one third are under voting age or are otherwise disqualified to exercise the right of suffrage. Besides many disapproved of the law which authorized citizens in arms to exercise that right, and will not take the benefit of it. so that probably not more than 500 city votes may be expected from that quarter. It would require a very great proportion of that number indeed to be thrown in the scale of the unsuccessfull candidates, to change the result” (Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Passed at a Session, Which Was Begun and Held at the City of Philadelphia, on Monday, the First Day of September, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Four, Phila., 1794, p. 633–636, Evans, description begins Charles Evans and others, American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends No. 27477; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989. description ends ; Philadelphia General Advertiser, 16 Oct.).
5. That is, Betsy Smith, Mary Smith Gray Otis’ sister.