A Page from John Adams' Literary Commonplace Book, 1756 8
Adams is copying here from Joseph Addison's eleven-part essay entitled “On the Pleasures of the Imagination,” which appeared in the Spectator
papers between 21 June and 3 July 1712, Nos. 411–421. The penciled notation in brackets is an editorial insertion identifying the beginning of the tenth part of Addison's essay. Adams concluded his copying of this essay on 13 April 1756. He wrote here in his small hand, entirely filling the page to conserve paper. For a calendar of his entries in his Commonplace Book, see p. 7–10
From the original in the Adams Papers.
The Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, Attributed to John Greenwood, Circa 1750 119
Minister of the West Church in Boston and an outspoken supporter of the whigs, Jonathan Mayhew (1720–1766) was the author of the famous A Dissertation Concerning Unlimited Submission and Nonresistance to the Higher Powers
, 1750, and of The Snare Broken
, 1766, a sermon on the repeal of the Stamp Act. John Adams admired particularly the Dudleian Lecture that Mayhew delivered in May 1765, which attacked the Catholic Church for its threat to liberty, a theme congenial to Adams' “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.”
See the notes to the “Dissertation,” May – 21 October 1765, under Nos. I
, and V
, below. The portrait is thought to have been painted about 1750.
Courtesy of the Congregational Library, Boston.
The Deplorable State of America, by John Singleton Copley, 1765 149
Published in Boston on 1 November 1765, the day the Stamp Act was to take effect, this political cartoon was probably commissioned to express the emotions of Bostonians who felt threatened by the revenue measures of Parliament. Copley himself had little to do with politics. The cartoon was modeled after an English engraving that appeared in London on 22 March 1765, the day the Stamp Act was passed, but Copley elaborated the design and introduced ideas applicable to Boston.
A flying Britannia, leaving behind fragments of Magna Carta, holds out Pandora's Box to America, saying, “Take it Daughter its only the S–––p A–t.” America, appealing to Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, begs her to shield her, as Liberty lies dying at America's
feet. The asp that stings Liberty creeps out of a thistle, symbolic of Scotland and the Scotch influence around the throne. Loyalty, holding the crown and leaning against the Tree of Liberty, sighs that she fears she will lose her support. Above them flies a figure representing France, who uses gold to influence Lord Bute, a boot in the sky whose rays seem like marionette strings holding Britannia.
In the left background one well-dressed gentleman remarks that they will lose £500 per year, and another comments, “Who would not sell their country for so large a sum.” But in their vicinity are both a gallows labeled “Fit Entertainment for St––p M–n” and a fresh grave being filled. One man leaning over the grave asks, “Will you resign,” and a voice answers from within the grave, “Yes, yes, I will.”
In the right background workmen are gathered, one asking, “have ye seen the S–––p m–n?” To which another answers, “there he Drives, D––n his eyes,” looking to the rear, where behind the tree a mounted figure lashes his horse and cries, “Fort George will save me.” Another workman says, “Now we are discharg'd Jack what shall we do for bread?” Others cry, “Ho for Fr–––e” and “Done it tis.” This stress upon the Act's effect on workmen is an interesting feature, for it was important to make the lower orders, as they were called, understand the danger from this revenue measure that threatened everyone. See E. P. Richardson, “Stamp Act Cartoons in the Colonies,”
, 96:275–297 (July 1972), which reproduces as figure 1 (p. 280) the English engraving that Copley used as a model.
Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia.
Old State House and Site of the Boston Massacre 150
This modern photograph shows the Old State House restored to its original appearance and the site of the Massacre, marked by the circle of stones in the foreground. The room just inside the balcony was the Council Chamber, where John Adams argued for the opening of the courts in 1765. He was one of the defense counsel for the trial of the soldiers and their captain who fired into a Boston crowd on 5 March 1770, killing three and fatally wounding two. Adams also served on a Boston committee to select one of the orators chosen annually to commemorate the Massacre.
Courtesy of the Boston Globe.
An Attempt to Land a Bishop in America, 1769 212
This cartoon appeared as the frontispiece to the September 1769 issue of The Political Register
of London (Vol. 5: opposite p. 119). The drawing illustrated an unsigned and critical review of a letter written by Thomas Secker in January 1751, when he was Bishop of Oxford, and ordered by him to be published after his death. He died in 1768 as Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter, written to Horatio Walpole, then a member of the Board of Trade, strongly urged the sending of bishops to America. The reviewer, obviously a religious dissenter, took sharp issue with both the
Bishop's opinions and the timing of the letter's publication, for it could only stir up more bitterness between Britain and America when too many issues were already dividing them. John Adams promised in “Sui Juris” to address himself to the issue of an American episcopacy. See p. 211–214
The Bishop is climbing the shrouds of the ship The Hilsborough to escape an angry crowd shoving the ship from the dockside and hurling insults. Hillsborough was the Secretary of State for the American Department who had demanded the rescinding of the Massachusetts Circular Letter. Someone in the crowd has aimed a volume of “Calvin's Works” at the Bishop's head, and others are about to fling volumes of Locke and Sidney. The Bishop's carriage, with its wheels stowed, rests on deck; his crook has fallen and his mitre lies caught in the ratlines.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
A Prospective View of Part of the Commons, by Christian Remick, 1768 221
The arrival of redcoats was one of the greatest irritants in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts, embroiling first the royal governor and citizens in disputes over where they might be housed, and then soldiers and citizens in quarrels over conduct within the town, culminating in the Boston Massacre. John Adams, an active member of the Sons of Liberty in this period, signed the letter to John Wilkes complaining of the recent arrival of the troops (Committee to Wilkes, 5 Oct. 1768
Christian Remick (1726–1773), sailor and watercolorist, did this view in 1768 to mark the arrival on 1 October of the 29th Regiment for encampment on the Common. In the right background stands the house of John Hancock, to whom the painting was dedicated, and the beacon on the hill from which Beacon Hill takes its name. It was engraved in 1902 by Sidney L. Smith for Charles E. Goodspeed, Boston. See Henry Winchester Cunningham, Christian Remick, an Early Boston Artist, Boston, 1904.
Courtesy of the Concord Antiquarian Society.
Serjeant John Glynn, John Wilkes, and the Rev. John Horne Tooke, By Richard Houston, 1769 234
John Wilkes (1727–1797), Member of Parliament, became a hero to American whigs when he was charged with seditious libel for his part in publishing The North Briton
, No. 45, in 1763, a savage attack on George III's speech to Parliament, which praised the peace with France arranged largely by the King's favorite, Lord Bute. What attracted Americans was Wilkes' ringing defense of the liberties of Englishmen, of their rights under the British constitution, particularly freedom of the press. To escape imprisonment again after he had been freed on Parliamentary privilege, Wilkes fled to the Continent, from which he returned in 1768. He was re-elected to Parliament only to be denied his seat and thrown in prison. That same year a Sons of Liberty committee, of which
Adams was a member, opened a correspondence with Wilkes. He was not freed from prison until 1770.
John Horne Tooke (1736–1812) at the time this mezzotint was made was a firm supporter of Wilkes and active in the Society of Supporters of the Bill of Rights, which devoted itself to paying off Wilkes' debts, and to which Adams was formally elected. Later Tooke turned against Wilkes in the belief that money collected should go to others who suffered in behalf of principle.
Serjeant John Glynn (1722–1779) was a close associate of Wilkes, who acted in a legal capacity in his behalf, and who with Wilkes' help was elected to Parliament in 1768.
The paper lying under Glynn's hand reads, “Addresses to County of Middlesex, Constitutional Law, Legal Liberty.” That to which Wilkes points, reads, “General Warrants, Seizure of Papers, Habeas Corpus, Alteration of Records, Informations ex Officio, Close Imprisonment.” And the paper in front of Horne Tooke reads, “Treatise on Inclosing, Commons Freedom of Elections, Trial by Jury, Letters to Sr. J. Gilbans and Sir W. B. Proctor.” Gilbans has not been identified, but Proctor was the ministerial candidate opposing Wilkes in the Parliamentary election of 1768.
This group was painted and engraved by Richard Houston (1712?–1775), the engraving being distributed by Robert Sayer (British Museum, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits
, 5 vols., London, 1908–1922, 5:55). On the three subjects and their painter, see
Courtesy of the Bostonian Society.
A Westerly View of the Colledges in Cambridge New England, by Paul Revere, after Joseph Chadwick, 1767 239
This 1767 engraving by Paul Revere was done in partnership with Joseph Chadwick, who did the drawing, and whose name appears on the left-hand side, opposite Revere's. Chadwick was a surveyor and engineer. Holden Chapel, the small building at the left, was not used for religious purposes after 1766, and it was here that the House of Representatives met when John Adams was a member, 1770–1771. The other buildings, left to right, are Hollis Hall, Harvard Hall, Stoughton Hall, and Massachusetts Hall. See Linda Ayres, Harvard Divided, Cambridge, 1976, p. 103–104. This publication is the catalogue of a Bicentennial exhibit at the University.
Courtesy of Harvard University.
William Brattle, by John Singleton Copley, 1756 257
Gen. William Brattle, called so because of the rank he achieved in the militia, held many civil offices, including those of representative, councilor, and Cambridge selectman. Although he began as a supporter of the whigs, he had become an adherent of the other side by 1773 and thus a particular target for the scorn of John Adams, who had earlier been his attorney in the suit Brattle v.
Murray. Adams felt that Brattle showed his true sentiments in the dispute over the independence of judges (11 January – 22 February 1773
, below). By September 1774 Brattle had to flee Cambridge for the protection of Boston and the royal troops.
Courtesy of a private collector.