Diary of John Adams, volume 3

November 9. Saturday.

1782 November 11. Monday.


The several foregoing paragraphs were clearly those that evoked amusement at JA's expense when his “Peace Journal” was read in Congress in 1783; see note on entry of 2 Nov., above. Alexander Hamilton was a delegate to Congress at the time, and in 1800, when assembling all the evidence he could gather to discredit JA as a Federalist candidate for the Presidency, he cited the “Peace Journal” as proof of JA's boundless vanity and jealousy.

“The reading of this Journal [Hamilton went on], extremely embarrassed his friends, especially the delegates of Massachusetts; who, more than once, interrupted it, and at last, succeeded in putting a stop to it, on the suggestion that it bore the marks of a private and confidential paper, which, by some mistake, had gotten into its present situation, and never could have been designed as a public document for the inspection of Congress. The good humor of that body yielded to the suggestion” ( Letter from Alexander Hamilton, concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United States, N.Y., 1800, p. 7–8).

JA's reply to this passage in Hamilton's tract is in a letter published in the Boston Patriot, 4, 7 Sept. 1811.

It is worth noting that when Jared Sparks printed the “Peace Journal” from the Papers of the Continental Congress he silently omitted the whole paragraph recording the French comparison of JA 51with Washington, thus cutting the ground from under Hamilton's charge ( Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Boston, 1829–1830, 6:471). It may also be worth noting that Matthew Ridley reported in his Diary (MHi), 10 Nov. 1782, that “Some time ago he [JA] was told that Mr. Washington was the greatest General in the World and that he Mr. A. was the General Washington in politics. —All this makes no Impression on him.”