The Washington Post

How hot was it on July 4, 1776?


Jefferson, it turns out, was “a systematic weather observer” as part of his effort to understand climate, according to the Monticello Web site. Here’s more from the Web site:

From 1776 Jefferson kept a consistent and, with inevitable interruptions, continuous record of his weather observations, in America, in Europe, and even in the mid-Atlantic. His practices and those of National Weather Service observers today are basically the same: to measure precipitation and to record the daily temperature range.

The Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia, where the Weather Channel says the high today will be an uncomfortable 94 degrees.

According to the American Museum of Natural History, Jefferson recorded in his weather journal for July 4, 1776, that he woke up to find that the temperature at 6 a.m. was 68 degrees.

At 9 a.m., the temperature was up to 72 degrees, and at 1 p.m. it was 76 degrees, according to the WeatherBug Web site. Similar temperatures were recorded that day by Phineas Pemberton, a member of a prominent Philadelphia family. He also recorded that on July 4, 1776, the wind was shifting from the north to the southwest and clouds were increasing in the afternoon.

Of course, there wasn’t air conditioning in the State House in Philadelphia when the representatives from the 13 American colonies met to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

And the delegates were wearing heavy suits and many of them had on wigs. Think about that when you complain about your work conditions.

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Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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