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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 2 of 53, Parents and schooling

[ . . . ] engaged and while [ . . . ] him in his Writings learned his Trade. My Father by his Industry and Enterprize soon became a Person of more Property and Consideration in the Town than his Patron ever was had been. He became a Select Man, a Militia Officer and a Deacon in the Church. He was the honestest Man I ever knew. In Wisdom, Piety, Benevolence and Charity In proportion to his Education and Sphere of Life, I have never seen his Superiour. My Grandmother was a [illegible Bass ofMendonBraintree: but as she died many Years before I was born, I know little of her History except that I have been told by an ancient Lady the Relict of our ancient Minister Mr. Marsh a Daughter of our more ancient Minister Mr. Fiske, that she was a Person possessed of more Litterature than was common in Persons of her Sex and Station, and a diligent Reader From her. and a most exemplary Woman in all the Relations of Life. She died of a Consumption and had Leisure to draw up advice to her Children, which I have read in her handwriting in my Infancy, but which is now lost. I know not that I have seen it for sity Years, and the Judgment of a Boy of seven Years old is not worth much to be recollected, but it appeared to me then wonderfully fine. From his Mother probably my Fatherderived received an Admiration of Learning as he called it, which remained with him, through Life, and which prompted him to his unchangeable determination to give his first son a liberal Education.
My Mother was Suzanna Boylston a Daughter of Peter Boylston of Brooklyne, the oldest son of Thomas Boylston a Surgeon and Apothecary who came from London in 1656, and married a Woman by the Name of Gardner of that Town, by whom he had Issue Peter my Grandfather, Zabdiel the Physician, who first introduced into the British Empire the Practice of Inocculation for the Small Pox,Richard, Thomas and Dudley and several Daughters.

[My Grandfather] married Ann [White, a daughter of Benjamin] White who lived on the South Side of the Hill in Brooklyne as you go to little Cambridge, known by the name of Whites Hill, which he owned. My Grandmother was the Sister of Edward White Esqr. the Father of Benjamin White,a Councillor and Representative for several Years, both of whom possessed in succession the Family Estate. She had several Sisters, one of whom married a Minister of Rochester of the name of Ruggles, who was by whom she had Timothy Ruggles a Lawyer,and Judge, aMember of the Legislature and a Brigadier General in the Army in the Warwith the French of 1755 in which he conducted with Reputation. Another of her Sisters married a Mr. Sharp and was the Mother of Mrs. Sumner of Roxbury the Mother of the late Governor Sumner, whose praises are justly celebrated by this whole People in this State.
My Father married Susanna Boylston in October 1734, and on the 19th of October 1735 I was born. As my Parents were both fond of reading, and my father had destined his first born, long before my his birth and indeed long before his marriage to a public Education I was very early taught to read at home and at a School of Mrs. Belcher the Mother of Deacon Moses Belcher, who lived in the next house on the opposite side of the House Road. I shall not consume much paper in relating the Anecdotes of my Youth. I was sent to the public School close by the Stone Church, then kept by Mr. Joseph Cleverly, who died this Year 1802 at the Age of Ninety. Mr. Cleverly was through his whole Life the most indolent Man I ever knew excepting Mr. Wibirt though atolerable Schollar and a Gentleman. His inattention to his Schollars was such as gave me a disgust to Schools, to books and to study and I spent my time as idle Children do in making and sailing boats and Ships upon the Ponds and Brooks, in making and flying Kites, in driving hoops, playing marbles, playing Quoits, Wrestling, Swimming, Skaiting and above all in shooting, to which  [illegible DiversionI was addicted to a degree of [Ardor which I know] not that I ever felt for any other Business, Study or Amusement.

My [Enthusiasm for Sports and Inattention to Books,] allarmed my [Father, and he] frequently entered into conversation with me upon the Subject. I told him [I did not?] love Books and wished he would lay aside the thoughts of sending me to Colledge. What would you do Child? Be a Farmer. A Farmer? Well I will shew you what it is to be a Farmer. You shall go with me to Penny ferry tomorrow Morning and help me get Thatch. I shall be very glad to go Sir. -- Accordingly next morning he took me with him, and with great good humour kept me all day with him at Work. At night at home he said Well John are you satisfied with being a Farmer. Though the Labour had been very hard and very muddy I answered I like it very well Sir. Ay but I dont like it so well: so you shall go to School to day. I went but was not so happy as among the Creek Thatch. My School master neglected to put me into Arithmetick longer than I thought was right, and I resented it. I procured me Cockers I believe and applyd myself to it at home alone andwhen went through the whole Course, overtook and passed by all the Schollars at School, without any master at all. I dared not ask my fathers Assistance because he would have disliked my Inattention to my Latin. In this idle Way I passed on till fourteen and upwards, when I said to my Father very seriously I wished he would take me from School and let me go to work upon the Farm. You know said my father I have set my heart upon your Education at Colledge and why will you not comply with my desire. Sir I dont like my Schoolmaster. He is so negligent and so cross that I never can learn any thing under him. If you will be so good as to perswade Mr. Marsh to take me, I will apply myself to my Studies as closely as my nature will admit, and go to Colledge as soon as I can be prepared. Next Morning the first I heard was John I have perswaded Mr. Marsh to take you, and you must go to school there to day. This Mr. Marsh was a Son of our former Minister of that name, who kept

[a private Boarding School but two doors from my Fathers. To this School I went,] where I was kindly treated, and I began to study in Earnest. My Father soon observed the relaxation of my Zeal for my Gun, Fowling Piece and my daily encreasing Attention to my Books. In a little more than a Year Mr. Marsh pronounced me fitted for Colledge. On the day appointed for the Examination at Cambridge for the Examination of Candidates for Admission into the Colledge I mounted my horse and called upon Mr. Marsh, who was to go with me. The Weather was dull and threatened rain. Mr. Marsh said he was unwell and afraid to go out. I must therefore go alone. Thunder struck at this  [illegible unforeseen disappointment, And feeling a terror terrified at the Thought of introducing myself to such great Men as the President and fellows of a Colledge, I at first resolved to return home: but foreseeing the Grief of my father and apprehending he would not only be offended with me, but my Master too whom I sincerely loved, I arroused my self, and collected Resolution enough to proceed. Although Mr. Marsh had assured me that he had seen one of the Tutors the last Week and had said to him, all that was proper for me him to say if he should go to Cambridge; that he was not afraid to trust me to an Examination and was confident I should acquit my self well and be honourably admitted; yet I had not the same confidence in my self, and suffered a very gloomymelancholly journey. Arrived at Cambridge I presented myself according to my directions and underwent the usual Examination by the President Mr. Holyoke and the Tutors Flint, Hancock, Mayhew and Marsh.Mr. Mayhew into whose Class We were to be admitted, presented me a Passage of English to translate into Latin. It was partly long and casting my Eye over it I found several Words the latin for which did not occur to my memory. Thinking that I must translate it without a dictionary, I was in a great fright and expected to be turned by, an Event that I dreaded above all things. Mr. Mayhew went into his Study and bid me follow him.

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 2 of 53 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 3. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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