Christmas, 1775

Ordinarily, I will not be posting entire letters, but I think this one, written by John Jay to his wife Sally on December 23, 1775 warrants it. Then, as now, the vicissitudes of war and politics prevent many from being with their families and friends during the holidays. 

Mr. Lewis is Francis Lewis (1713-1803) and Colonel Morris is Lewis Morris (1726-98), Jay’s fellow delegates to Congress from New York. “Papa” is Sarah Livingston Jay’s father, William Livingston (1723-90), delegate from New Jersey.  Mr. Hooper is William Hooper (1742-1790), delegate from North Carolina. 

A note on the transcription: we aim to replicate as closely as possible the original document. Cross-outs, insertions, punctuation, miss-spellings, and slips of the pen (such as “how much more happy were are” in the letter below) are all retained. 

For an image of the original document, please click here: EJ: 4016

 [Philad. 23 Decr. 1775]

My dear Wife

     I have now the Pleasure of informing you that the New York Convention has at Length made some Provision for their Delegates vizt. 4 Dollars pr. Day for their Attendance on the last, and this Congress, so that I shall not be so great a Sufferer as I once apprehended. The Allowance indeed does by no Means equal the Loss I have sustained by the appointment, but the Convention I suppose consider the Honor as an Equivalent for the Residue–

      The Congress this Day refused to give me Leave of ^absence^ for next Week– There are but five New York Delegates here Coll. Morris & Mr. Lewis being absent, so that should either of us leave the Town, the Province would be unrepresented. We expect however soon to adjourn, and your Papa has engaged Mr. Hooper to accompany him to Elizabeth Town, where I hope we shall soon be all very happy. My Horses were new shod, wheels greased, Cloaths put up and every Thing ready to set off early in the Morning, when on going to Congress this Morning all my pleasing Expectations of seeing you on Christmas Day were disappointed– Dont you pity me my Dear Sally?

      It is however some Consolation that should the Congress not adjourn in less than ten Days, I am determined to stay with you till ________ and depend upon it nothing but actual Imprisonment will be able to keep me from you.

      At present I find the Objections of the Congress so reasonable, that I am sure you would blame me, were [I] to attempt leaving them without Permission– I must endeavour to resign my self to my Fate, and am sure you have too much good Sence and too much Regard for _______ to permit the Disappointment to occasion unavailing Anxiety. Tomorrow or on Tuesday next the Congress will I believe determine the Time of Adjournmt. so that it is probable I shall have the Happiness of wishing you a happy New Year–  Adieu my beloved. I am most sincerely, Your affe.

John Jay

P.S. I have recd. a Letter from Rye of an old Date– They were as well as usual, I dined with your Papa to Day– He was very well. Once more let me intreat you to be chearful and keep up your Spirits– I know by my own Feelings that these kind of Disappointmts are disagreable but when I reflect how much more happy were are than thousands of our Fellow Mortals my Uneasiness is lost in Gratitude. 

ALS, N (EJ: 4016)


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