Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2

5th. JQA 5th. Adams, John Quincy

Mr. Hilliard preach'd in the morning from Matthew XXIV 13. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. I have no observations to make upon his Sermon, several of those I have made heretofore will apply. In the afternoon, Mr. Burr, the 122Tutor preach'd from Titus II, 11, 12. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Mr. B. preaches well, but altho: it is but so short a Time since he begun, yet he has acquired a tone in speaking which approaches too near a cant. He paid the most attention to the last verse, which indeed is more proper to be expatiated upon.

6th. JQA 6th. Adams, John Quincy

We recited this morning for the first time in Ferguson's astronomy. The part which I have read is pleasing, and the study in itself is as agreeable, as it is useful and important.1 Mr. Williams began his course of astronomical Lectures this morning. The class attend in two divisions. He gave us the Theory of the earth's motion. We observed the Sun through a telescope; and saw several clusters of those spots which are mentioned in astronomical books. Mr. W told us, that he once saw one of them divide in two, while he was looking through the glass. He was to have given us a view of the moon this evening but could not because the weather was cloudy.


JQA's interest in astronomy was to continue throughout his life. In 1816 he gave a set of celestial charts to Harvard and a few years later contributed money for building an observatory for the college. The need for a national observatory was included in his presidential inaugural address (Andrew Oliver, Portraits of John Quincy Adams and His Wife, Cambridge, 1970, p. 226–227 and references there).

7th. JQA 7th. Adams, John Quincy

We had a lecture from Mr. Wigglesworth in the afternoon, and in the evening the weather being fair, we look'd through the telescope at the moon. The objects were not so much magnified as I expected, nor so plain, as they are represented in books. We held a court at Beale's chamber after tea.

8th. JQA 8th. Adams, John Quincy

Mr. Williams gave a public astronomical lecture this afternoon, relating to the different theory's of the planetary System; he gave an account of the Ptolemean, the Tychonic,1 and the Copernican. There was little more than what may be found in most astronomical books; but the lecture was entertaining and was 123very à propos, as it relates to the public course, and, to the book, which we have just begun to study.

Weather very comfortable.


A via media between the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems, devised by the 16th-century Dutch astronomer Tycho Brahe, who believed that five planets rotated about the sun, which in turn circled around the immobile earth.