The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

John Quincy Adams: Summer Chronicles

So, have you noticed the heat? For your refreshment, here is a little historical commiseration from the diaries of John Quincy Adams.

21 July 1820:

IV:30. Thunder Shower in the night, which made it almost a sleepless night to me. . . . The day was sultry and damp, a temperature which always affects unfavourably my Spirits.

My Spirits are affected too. This weekend, severe thunderstorms are expected break the heat wave in New England. The relief should be well worth the Sturm und Drang.

27 July 1820:

There was one of the most violent Thunder Showers that I ever witnessed. For about half an hour the clash of electric clouds was immediately over the City—the flashes of lightening, followed instantly by the thunderclap, and at intervals of scarcely a minute from each other. Fahrenheit had been in the morning at 90, but fell about 10 degrees immediately after the shower— The evening was cool, and Mrs. Adams rode out with the children.

Here JQA describes his summer evening routine.

30 July 1820:

After dinner, while day-light lasts I read the Newspapers, but from the dusk of Evening, pass an hour or two of total vacancy, sitting at the porch of the door, or the chamber window; almost gasping for breath and maintaining the war with Spiders, bugs and musquitoes.

Did you know that JQA's diaries are reproduced in full on the Society's website? Perfect reading for an impossibly stuffy night, don't you think?




**All quotations from diary 31 of The Diaries of John Quincy Adams: A Digital Collection.

permalink | Published: Friday, 19 July, 2013, 8:00 AM