Adams Papers

From John Adams to Benjamin Franklin, 6 September 1778

To Benjamin Franklin

Passi September [6] 17781

Dear Sir

It seems to me necessary, that each of Us may understand our affairs, and be able to render a clear and Satisfactory account to our Constituents, that We should settle two or three Questions that at present are undecided.

It should be understood by each of Us, what Articles of Expence, are to be paid by Us both, jointly and what are to be discharged by each Separately.

I will venture to give my opinion upon both, with as much Frankness and Precision as possible.

I should think that the Rent of the House and Furniture, the Hire of the Coachman Horses and Carriage, the Wages of the Maitre d’Hotel, and Cook, and the Expences of the Table should be paid in Common by the Draughts which We make upon the Banker jointly.

That the Pay of our Clerks,2 the Wages and Cloaths of our seperate servants, our own Cloaths, Books, Newspapers and other Expences of every Kind should be paid seperately. I have hitherto in my own Mind gone upon this Line.

With Regard to our Common Expences, I think an Account should be kept, and Receipts taken, and once a month, each of Us furnished with a Copy of it. I am willing to take this Trouble upon myself, if it is thought agreable. I am, Sir, your Friend and humble sert

Mem. September 13. 1778. This Letter which was written a Week ago was never Sent. But this Morning Mr. W. T. Franklin came in, with the Book in his Hand containing an account of the Expences of the Family from the Beginning, and offering, that I should keep the Account, for the Future.3 Mr. J. L. Austin being present.4

LbC (Adams Papers).

1The date seems indicated from JA’s memorandum of 13 Sept., written immediately below the closing, and by the letter’s position in the Letterbook just before one of the 7th.

2For clarity this comma has been moved from its original position following “Wages.”

3William Temple Franklin brought JA the book that he had kept containing the accounts for the household at Passy for the period from 16 Jan. 1777 to 24 Aug. 1778 and which included expenditures by JA, Silas Deane, and Benjamin Franklin. JA copied the accounts into a Letterbook (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 123) and then, with an entry for 1 Oct., began keeping the accounts himself, ending his effort with an entry for 23 Feb. 1779. For the accounts since JA’s arrival in France, see vol. 6:16–20, and for those kept by JA, see 1 Oct. (below).

4Jonathan Loring Austin served as JA’s secretary from April 1778 until he set out for America in late Sept. or early Oct. (JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:300;4:49; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– . description ends , 16:303–308).

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