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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0009-0007-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1779-11-24

24. Wednesday.

On the grand Bank of N[ew] F[ound] L[and].—A few days ago, We spoke an American Privateer, the General Lincoln; Captain Barnes. Wrote Letters by him to my family. Mr. Dana wrote.1 Mr. Thaxter, Mr. John, and several others.2
Heard, since I came on board, several Hints concerning W.; Son of ——.3 That he has made a great Fortune—by Privateering, by Trade, by buying Sailors Shares, and by gambling. That he has won of C. a great Sum of Money. C., whom nobody pities. That —— has lost Rep[utation] by the Appointment of S., which is probable. That the Son has made Money, by knowing what was wanted for the Navy, and purchasing it, in great Quantities and then selling it, to the Board. That the Agent, B., has made a great fortune. That his Wife is a great Tory. Anecdotes of her Conversation.—That B. would certainly be hanged, if it was not that she was a Tory. Nasty, Poison Paper Money, &c. &c. &c. Not to put that nasty Paper, with our other Money.
Jer[emiah] A[llen] is a very different Man from his Brother J. None of that Wit, Humour, or Fun—none of that volatile Genius appears. There is a Softness, and a Melancholly, in his face, which indicates a Goodness. Not intemperate, or vicious, to Appearance.
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1. Francis Dana (1743–1811), Harvard 1762, lawyer, member of the Massachusetts Council, and delegate to the Continental Congress, 1777–1779, was accompanying JA as “Secretary to my Commission and Chargé D'Affaires” ( JA , Autobiography). His later career as diplomat and judge is related in DAB and in W. P. Cresson, Francis Dana ..., N.Y. and Toronto, 1930, a work full of careless errors. Dana's papers are in MHi and include a journal kept from Nov. 1779 to Feb. 1780 that has proved useful in annotating JA 's Diary for this period.
2. JQA 's letter to his mother, “At Sea,” 20 Nov. 1779, is in Adams Papers.
3. Winslow, son of Gen. James Warren; see JA 's Autobiography under this date. James Warren was currently a member of the Eastern Navy Board. His son Winslow sailed for Europe in the following June and wandered from Amsterdam to Lisbon in an unsuccessful search for commercial opportunities and consulships ( Warren-Adams Letters , vol. 2, passim; Winslow Warren's European letters and journals, 1780–1785, MHi: Mercy Warren Papers).
As for the other persons alluded to by initials in this paragraph, plausible guesses as to their identity can be and have been made, but none of these guesses is wholly satisfactory.