Inside Front Cover
SODALITAS, A CLUBB OF FRIENDS.
[This heading suggests that JA
planned to keep a separate record of the proceedings of this lawyers' study
club. But after a few entries in Jan.-Feb. 1765 and some fragments of a first
draft of his essay on canon and feudal law, written for the club, the record
1765. JANY. 24TH. THURDSDAY.
Soon after I got to
Boston, at Jany. Court Mr.
Fitch came to me upon Change, and told me, that Mr.
Gridley and he had something to communicate to me, that I should like,
in Sacred Confidence however. I waited on Mr. Gridley, at his
office, (after many Conjectures what the secret might be) and he told me, That
He and Mr. Fitch had proposed a Law Clubb -- a private
Association, for the study of Law and oratory. -- As to the Bar, he thought of
them, as he did think of them Otis, Thatcher,
Auchmuty. He was considering, who was for the future to
support the Honour and Dignity of the Bar. And he was
determined to bring me into Practice, the first Practice, and
Fitch too. He could easily do it, by recommending. And he was
very desirous of forming a junto, a small sodality, of himself and
Fitch and me, and Dudley
if he pleased might come, in order to read in Concert the Feudal Law and
Tullies orations. And for this Purpose he lent me, the Corpus Juris Civilis in
4 Partes distinctum, eruditissimis Dionysii Gothofredi J.C. clarissimi notis
illustratum, at the End of which are the Feudorum Consuetudines Partim ex
Editione vulgata partim ex Cujaciana vulgata, appositae, as also the Epitome
Feudorum Dionysio Gothofredo Authore.
We accordingly agreed to meet the next Evening in one of Ballards back
Chambers and determine upon Times, Places, and studies.
accordingly met the next Evening, Mr. Gridley,
Fitch and I, and spent the whole Evening. Proposals were to
read a Reign and the statutes of that Reign, to read Hurds
Dialogues and any new Pieces. But at last we
determined to read The Feudal Law and Cicero only, least we
should loose sight of our main Object, by attending to too many.
Nights were agreed on, and to meet first
at Mr. Gridleys office. There we accordingly met on the
Night following, and suffered our
Conversation to ramble upon Hurds Dialogues, the Pandects, their Discovery in
Italy by Lotharius in 1127, in the Reign of
Stephen, upon Lambard de priscis Anglorum Legibus, in Saxon
and Latin, upon Ld. Kaims [Kames]
Mr. Blackstone &c. But we agreed to meet the next
night at Mr. Fitch's,
and to read the Three first Titles of the feudal Law, and Tullies oration for
THURDSDAY JANUARY 24TH. 1765.
I rode to Boston on Purpose to meet at Fitchs.
Gridley came. We read the 3 first Titles of the feudal Law,
and We read Gothofreds
Notes and We
looked into Strykius
for the Explanation of
many hard Words in those 3 Titles-The Valvasors, Capitanii, Guardia and
Guastaldi. This Strykius wrote an Examen Juris feudalis, by
Question and Answer. His account of the original of the
Consuetudines Feudorum is, that they were collected and written by
Gerardus Niger, and Obertus, the Consulls of
Milan. -- We read also Part of Tully's
Milo-and are to read the 4th. and 5th Title of The Feudal Law,
and the rest of that oration next Thurdsday
The Law of Inheritances in
England originates in the Feudal Law. Gilberts
Tenures originate there. Robinsons History of
Scotland gives the clearest account of the Feudal system they
say. Ld. Kaims has given us the Introduction of the Feudal Law
Scotland. -- Q. What say the Law Tracts and Dalrymple on this
Taylor observed to me when in England that no Books were
more proper for Nisi prius oratory, than the Examiner, Craftsman and such
Controversial Writings of the best Hands.
I expect the greatest Pleasure from this sodality, that I ever had in my
Life -- and a Pleasure too, that will not be painfull to my Reflection.
Milo was condemned and went into Banishment, at
Marseilles. There He afterwards read
oration, which had been corrected and polished
for his Perusal and sent to him by Cicero, for a Present
and an Amusement. Reading it, he broke out "si sic ejecisses Marce
Tulli barbatos Pisces non comedissem" [Various versions of this incident
are recorded. According to JA's text, Milo said: "If you had thus delivered
[your speech in my favor], Marcus Tullius, I would not have eaten bearded
fishes [in Marseilles]."]
-- for he had been eating a sort of bearded
Fishes, that he found at
THURDSDAY. JANY. 31 ST.
The snowy Weather prevented me from going to Dudleys. The
Sodality however met and read the two Titles assigned, and assigned the three
next vizt. the 6th. Episcopum, vel Abbatem vell Abbatissam, vel Dominum plebis
feudum dare non posse. Tit. 7th. De Natura Feudi, and Tit. 8th. De successione
THURDSDAY. FEBRUARY 21ST. 1765.
Boston, entertained the Sodality at Blodgets.
We were never in better Spirits, or more Social. We began the 13th. Title of
the feudal Law De Alienatione Feudi and read three Titles.
Gridley proposed that we should mark all those Passages, which
are adopted by the English Law, that when we come to read Ld.
Coke we may recur back upon Occasion, to the originals of our Law.
The14th. Title is De Feudo Marchiae, vel Ducatus vel Comitatus. Here
therefore we see the originals of English Dignities, Marquisates, Dukedoms,
Countys &c. The 15th. Title is an Maritus succedat Uxori in Feudo.
I quoted to my Brothers, the Preface to the Historical Law Tracts, "The
feudal Customs ought to be the
Study of every Man, who proposes to
reap Instruction from the History of the modern European Nations, because among
these Nations, public Transactions not less than private Property, were some
Centuries ago, regulated by the Feudal system. Sovereigns formerly were many of
them connected by the Relation of Superiour
Vassal. The King of
England, for Example, by the feudal Tenure, held of the french
King many fair Provinces."
I quoted also the sentiments of Rosseau, which are very
inimical to the Feudal system. -- "The Notion of Representatives, says he, is
modern, descending to us, from the Feudal system, that most iniquitous and
absurd Form of Government by which human Nature was so shamefully degraded."
Fitch. The Feudal system was military. It was a martial
system-- a set of Regulations (as Robinsons calls it) for the
Incampment of a great Army-and it was a wise and good system, for a martial
People in such Circumstances. For the feudal Connections and subordination, and
services, were necessary for their Defence against
the Inroads and Invasions of their Neighbours,
I think that the Absurdity and Iniquity lies in this, that Nations at Peace
and in Plenty who live by Commerce and Industry, have adopted such a
T here lies the Absurdity and Iniquity. And the observation you quote proves
that Rosseau is shallow.
I might have quoted Ld. Kaims's British Antiquities, who
says --"It is the Plan of the feudal Law to bestow the whole Land property upon
the King and to subject to him the Bulk of the People, in Quality of Servants
and Vassals; a Constitution so contradictory to all the Principles which govern
Mankind can never be brought about, one should imagine, but by foreign
Conquest, or native Usurpation." And in another Place he calls the feudal
connection, the feudal Yoke.
These Epithets of absurd, iniquitous, unatural
&c. are not very agreable to the Opinion of
Strykius, who says in answer to the Question Unde Originem
trahunt Feuda?-Certo modo et si formam feudorum genericam consideres, dici
potest ex Jure Gentium. Hoc enim ratio naturalis, juncta necessitate publica,
exigit, ut militibus potissimum Praedia, ab Hostibus occupata, pro bene meritis
concederentur sub Conditione tamen fidelitatis, quo eo securior esset
Respublica, et ad Patriam defendendam magis allicerentur.
In Milo We read from the 27th. to the 34th section in
Davidsons Translation. We begin the Peroration next. We had
Guthries and Davidsons Translations. In Point
of Accuracy And Spirit Davidson's is vastly
Mr. Gridley produced a Book intituled in Herennium Commentarius, as an Introduction
to Tully De Oratore-and read the Three sorts of orations, the Demonstrative,
Deliberative and judicial, and the several Parts of an oration, the Exordium
Our Plan must be, when we have finished the feudal Law, to read Coke
Littleton, and after him a Reign and the Statutes of that Reign. It
should also be a Part of our Plan, to improve ourselves in Writing, by reading
carefully the best English Writers, and by Using ourselves to writing-- for it
should be a part of our Plan to publish Pieces, now and then. Let us form our
Style upon the Ancients, and the best English Authors.
I [illegible] hope and expect to see, at the Bar, in
Consequence of this Sodality, a Purity, an Elegance, and a Spirit, surpassing
any Thing that ever appeared in America. Fich
[Fitch] said that he would not say he had
Abilities, but he would say he had Ambition enough to hope for the same
[ FRAGMENTARY DRAFT OF A DISSERTATION ON CANON AND FEUDAL LAW, FEBRUARY
[The following paragraphs are an early draft of an essay later published
in the Boston Gazette in four parts, 12 and 19 Aug., 30 Sept., and 21 Oct.
This Sodality has given rise to the following Speculation of my own, which I
commit to writing, as Hints for future Enquiries rather than as a satisfactory
The Desire of Power Power Dominion, that encroaching, grasping,
restless, and ungovernable Principle in human Nature, that Principle which has
made so much Havock and Desolation, among the Works of
God, in all the Variety of systems, that have been invented, for its
Gratification, was never so successfull, as in
the Invention and Establishment of the Cannon and the Feudal Law. -- By the
former the most refined, sublime, extensive, and astonishing Constitution of
Policy, that was ever conceived by the Human Mind, was framed, by the Romish
Clergy, for the Aggrandisement of their own order. This Constitution will be
allowed to deserve all the Epithets I have given it, when it is considered,
that they found Ways to make the World believe that God had entrusted them with
Keys of Heaven whose Gates they might open and shut at Pleasure, and
with the Power of Dispensation over all the Rules and Types of Morality, the
Power of licensing all sorts both of sins and Crimes, with the Power of
Deposing Princes, and absolving all their subjects from their Subj
Allegiance, with the Power of Procuring or withholding
the Rain of
Heaven, and the Beams of the Sun, with the Power of Earthquakes,
Pestilence, Famine; nay with the Power of creating Blood
Nay the Blood of God out of Wine, and Flesh the Flesh of God out of Bread. Thus
was human Nature held for Ages, fast Bound in servitude, in a cruel, shameful,
deplorable Bondage to him and his subordinate Tyrants who it
fortold in the Apocalypse, would exalt himself above all that is called God and
that is worshiped.
By the latter another system was formed similar to the former in some
Respects, and altho it was originally contrived
perhaps for the necessary Defence of a barbarous
Nation People against the Inroads and Invasions of her
neighbouring Nations; yet it was soon adopted by
almost all the Princes in
Europe, and wrought into the Constitution of their Governments
for the same Purposes of Tyranny, Cruelty and Lust. This Constitution was
originally a Code of Laws for a vast Army, in a perpetual Encampment. The
General was in
vested with the Property of all the Land within
Canon & feudal law
It was a Resolution formed by a sensible People almost in despair.
[The Puritans' decision to leave England and settle in America.] They
Puritans had become intelligent in general, and some of them learned
but they had been galled, and fretted, and whipped and cropped, and hanged and
burned. In short they had been so worried by Plagues and Tortures in every
Shape, and they utterly despaired of Deliverance from these Miseries in their
own Country, that they at last resolved to fly to the Wilderness, for Refuge
from the temporal and spiritual Principalities and Powers, and Plagues and
scourges of their Native Country.
After their Arrival here, they began their settlements and pursued their
Plan both of Ecclesiastical and Civil Government in direct Opposition to the
Cannon And the feudal systems.
Their first Concern was to preserve and
The leading Men among the first Settlers of
America, were Men of sense and Learning. And the Clergymen, who
came over first, were [illegible]
familiar with the Historians,
Orators, Poets and Phylosophers of
Rome, and many of them have left behind them Libraries which are
still in Being consisting chiefly of Books, whose Character their great Grand
sons can scarcely read.
I always consider the settlement of
America with Reverence and Wonder-- as the Opening of a grand
scene and Design in Providence, for the Illumination of the Ignorant and the
Emancipation of the slavish Part of Mankind all over the Earth.
their great grand sons, tho educated at European
Universities, can scarcely read. Archbishop King him self, (I think it was, for
I say this upon Memory) observed of the Puritans in General, that they were
much more intelligent, and better read than the Members of the Church whom he
reproaches, and censures very warmly for that Reason.
Provision was early made by Law, that every Town should be
accommodated with a grammar school-under a severe Penalty-- so that even
Negligence of Learning was made
a Crime, a Stretch of Wisdom in
Policy that was never equalled before nor since unless by the ancient Egyptians
who made the Want of Generosity and Humanity a Capital Crime.
But besides the Obligation laid on every Town to provide the means of
Learning, a Colledge nay a Number of
Colledges were formed very early, and a very early
Attention to them from the Legislature, exempted from Military Duties--
exemptions from Taxes, and many other Encouragements have taken Place. And in
fine We their Posterity, have seen the Fruits and Consequences of the Wisdom
and Goodness of our Forefathers. All Ranks and orders of our People, are
intelligent, are accomplished-- a Native of
America, especially of
New England, who cannot read and wright is as rare a Phenomenon
as a Comet.
Remainder of the Piece begun in our last.
Thus accomplished were the first Settlers of these Colonies-- and as has
been said, Tyranny in every shape, was their Disdain and Abhorrence. No
Kind of Fear of Punishment not even of Death itself, in
exquisite Torture had been sufficient to conquer that steady, manly,
pertinacious Spirit, with which they opposed the Tyrants of those Days in
Church and state. And their greatest Concern seems to have been to establish a
Government of the Church, more consistent with the scriptures, and a Government
of the state more agreable to the Dignity of human
Nature, than they had ever seen in
Europe. For this purpose They knew that
beautiful were the feet &c. But They saw clearly, that of all the
ridiculous Nonsense, Delusion, and Frenzy that had ever passed
thro the Mind of Man, none had ever been more
glaring and extravagant than the Notions of the Cannon Law, of the indellible
Character, the perpetual succession, the virtuous and sanctified Effluvia from
Episcopal Fingers, and all the rest of that
dark Ribaldry which
had thrown such a Glare of Mistery
Reverence and Right Reverence, Eminence and Holiness around the Idea of a
Priest [sentence unfinished]
[This entry appears on several loose
folded pages inserted into Diary 10.]
AUGUST 15TH. 1765
I hope it will give no offence, to
enquire into the Grounds and Reasons of the strange
Conduct of Yesterday and last Night, at
Boston. Is there any Evidence, that Mr. Oliver
ever wrote to the Ministry, or to any Body in
England any unfavourable
Representations, of the People of this Province? Has he ever placed the
Character of the People, their Manners, their Laws, their Principles in
Religion or Government, their submission to order and Magistracy, in a false
Is it known that he ever advised the Ministry to lay internal Taxes upon Us?
That he ever solicited the office of Distributer of Stamps? or that he has ever
done any Thing to injure the People, or to incur their Displeasure, besides
barely accepting of that office? If there is no Proof at all of any such Injury
done to the People by that Gentleman, has not the blind, undistinguishing Rage
of the Rabble done him, irreparable Injustice? To be placed, only in Pageantry,
in the most conspicuous Part of the Town, with such ignominous Devices around
him, would be thought severity enough by any Man
sensibility: But to be carried thro
the Town, in
such insolent Tryumph
and burned on an Hill, to have
his Garden torn in Pieces, his House broken open, his furniture destroyed and
his whole family thrown into Confusion and Terror, is a very attrocious
Violation of the Peace and of dangerous Tendency and Consequence.
But on the other Hand let us ask a few Questions. Has not his
the Lieutenant Governor discovered to the
People in innumerable Instances, a very ambitious and avaricious Disposition?
Has he not grasped four of the most important offices in the Province into his
own Hands? Has not his Brother in Law Oliver another of the
greatest Places in Government? Is not a Brother of the Secretary, a Judge of
Court? Has not that Brother a son in
the House? Has not the secretary a son in the House, who is also a judge in one
of the Counties? Did not that son marry the Daughter of another of the judges
of the Superiour
Court? Has not the Lieutenant
Governor a Brother, a Judge of the Pleas in
Boston? and a Namesake and near Relation who is
another judge? Has not the Lieutenant Governor a near Relation who is Register
of his own Court of Probate, and Deputy Secretary? Has he not another near
Relation who is Clerk of the House of Representatives? Is not this amazing
ascendancy of one Family, enough
Foundation sufficient on which to
erect a Tyranny? Is it not enough to excite jealousies among the People?
Quere further. Has not many a Member of both Houses, laboured to the Utmost of his Ability, to obtain a
Resolution to send home some Petitions and Remonstrances to the King, Lords and
Commons vs. the Impositions they saw were about to be
laid upon Us. Has not the Lieutenant Governor all along been the very Gentleman
who has prevented it, and wiped out every spirited, if not every sensible
Expression out of those Petitions?
Quaere further. When the Court was about to choose an Agent, did not the
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary, make Use of all their Influence
to procure an Election for Mr. Jackson
Was not Mr. Jackson [ . . . ]
secretary to Mr. Greenville? Was not Mr.
Greenville, the Author of the late Measures relative to the Colonies?
Was not Mr. Jackson an Agent and a particular Friend of the
Governor? Was not all this considering the natural jealousy of Mankind, enough
to excite suspicions among the Vulgar, that all these Gentlemen were in a
Combination, to favour
the Measures of the Ministry,
at least to prevent any Thing from being done here to discourage the Minister
from his rash, mad, and Dogmatical Proceedings?
Would it not be Prudence then in those Gentlemen at this alarming
Conjuncture, and a Condescention that is due to the present Fears and
Distresses of the People, (in some manner consistent with the Dignity of their
stations and Characters,) to remove these jealousies from the Minds of the
People by giving an easy solution of these Difficulties?
Pages 20 - 21
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Page 24, upside down
[These notes appear on several loose
folded pages inserted into Diary 10. (This sequence of pages also includes the
entry for 15 August 1765.) The following three pages are presented in reverse
order because John Adams flipped the folded pages and began the notes relating
to the legal case of Hannah Place. ]
Hannah Place vs.
Introduced into the family at 13. Constant Understanding that she should be
paid. A Pittance left to 'em by their Uncle. He [cutt?]. No
particular Bargain for Wood or service.
Had one of em constantly as a Maid. My Husband promised to pay her. The fore
part of the Time Mary worked, the latter
Hannah. Hannah worked but very little abroad
the whole Time. She did some. They told me, both could not leave home at once.
[illegible] They bought their own Cloaths. From 47 to 56.
They worked at taylering for me. I paid em in sugar and Tea. I've seen them
washing and laboring. And sowing seeds in Garden.
About House work, fetching Water and Washing -- no other Help.
Seen em Milking, Washing, Ironing, Baking. 3 of em lived there. Went out and
took in Work.
Molly was weakly and made this her Home.
Father in Law employed one of my sisters constantly as a Maid and said he
would pay her
Page 23, upside down
and all the rest of us were welcome to
live there. Molly uneasy. He said his Word as good as the
Bank. He found Room and Wood, and Provisions. Father borrowed the Wood of
sister Hannah, to buy his Grave stones, pay her the Wood or
the Money. [illegible]
Hired some Washing.
Something of an Account.
Got me to milk.
Conversation with Atwood about pay for Doctering. Chose to
know what it is. Said he would agree with them and leave it to Men. Have known
them to buy some Tea &c.
Troublesome family. No troublesome Company. -- Family Witnesses.
White. Younger sister Elder sister.
They worked out. [illegible] The old Lady used to be the Maid,
in the family. Never heard of any pay. Old Gentleman in kitchen. Weakly. Within
6 Year. My maid often sent for to help her up.
They took several suits of Cloaths home. Never
mistrusted their being Maids.
Page 22, upside down
Lived there 10 Year.
Pages 25 - 54
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Inside Back Cover
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