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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0010-0008-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1766-11-05

Wednesday Novr. 5th.

Attended Court, heard the Tryal of an Action of Trespass brought by a Molatto Woman, for Damages, for restraining her of her Liberty.1 This is call’d suing for Liberty; the first Action that ever I knew, of the Sort, tho I have heard there have been many. Heard another Action for Assault and Battery, of a Mariner by the Master of a Vessell; a little Fellow was produced as a Witness who is a Spaniard—speaks intelligible English—black Eyes, thin, sharp Features—has been among the English for 3 or 4 Years.
Here I saw Nathl. Peasley Sergeant of Methuen, 2 Years an Attorney of Superior Court, now commencing a Barister.2 He took his Degree the Year I entered Colledge. He has the Character of Sense, Ingenuity &c. but not of fluency. He is a stout Man, not genteel nor sprightly. This is the Gentleman whom Thatcher recommended for a Justice and Admired for his Correctness and Conciseness, as another Father Reed.
Here I found the famous Joseph Eaton, at Law as usual. I knew him when I lived at Worcester where he had a Suit, I believe every Court while I lived there. He now lives at Lynn End, on the Borders between Essex and Middlesex. This is one of the stirring Instruments that Goffe has patronised and encouraged, for many Years. I remember to have heard Goffe celebrate him for self Government—for a cool steady command of his Passions, and for Firmness of Mind &c.
Eaton is now at Law with the Harts, whose Characters are as curious as his, and more so.
This Eaton Goffe set up, as Pynchon tells me, to be a Justice, but Thatcher got him indicted in the County of Essex for a Barrator, which defeated the scheme of Goffe, and he came near Conviction. Goffe grew warm and said that Eaton’s Character was as good as any Mans at the Bar.
Spent the Evening at Mr. Pynchons, with Farnham, Sewal, Sergeant, Coll. Saltonstall &c., very agreably. Punch, Wine, bread and Cheese, Apples, Pipes and Tobacco. Popes and Bonfires this Evening at Salem, and a Swarm of tumultuous People attending them.3
1. The case was that of Jenny Slew v. John Whipple Jr., in which Kent served as counsel for the appellant and Gridley for the appellee. The jury found for { 322 } the appellant (Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 85). Some fragmentary but interesting notes on the lawyers’ arguments and the judges’ queries and remarks remain among JA ’s legal papers (Microfilms, Reel No. 185).
2. Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant (1731–1791), a justice of the Massachusetts Superior (later Supreme) Court from 1776; chief justice, 1790–1791 (Emory Washburn, Sketches of the Judicial History of Massachusetts, Boston, 1840, p. 234–235).
3. The 5th of November was Guy Fawkes Day, called Pope’s Day in New England. See Forbes, Paul Revere , p. 93–97, 471–472

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0010-0008-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1766-11-06

Novr. 6th. Thurdsday.

A fine Morn. Oated at Martins where we saw 5 Boxes of Dollars containing as we were told about 18,000 of them, going in an Horse Cart from Salem Custom House to Boston, in Order to be shipp’d for England. A Guard of Armed Men, with swords, Hangers, Pistols and Musquets, attended it. We dined at Dr. Tufts’s, in Medford.
There I first heard that the old Custom and Priviledge of Electing orators, Thesis Collectors, &c. by the Class, has been lately taken away, and that this Invasion of their Priviledges, contributed more than the Butter towards the late Spirit of Insurrection there.1
Drank Tea at Mrs. Kneelands. Got Home before 8 o Clock.
1. The Harvard “Butter Rebellion" of 1766, a classic incident of its kind, has been graphically described by Samuel Eliot Morison in Three Centuries of Harvard, Cambridge, 1936, p. 117–118; see also Quincy, History of Harvard Univ., 2:99–100. A ruling of 1765 required students to take all their commons at the College, but in the fall of the following year a revolt broke out over the imported Irish butter served by the steward after repeated and well-justified complaints that it was “bad and Unwholesome.” The affair dragged on for weeks, proceeding through all the usual stages to an ultimate compromise. In the Adams Papers, though how it got there is unknown, is a copy of a MS memorial addressed by the undergraduates to the Overseers denying that they had entered “into Combination contrary to the Laws and Disrespectfull to the Government of the Colledge.” This paper is unsigned and undated but has been filed at the end of the year 1766.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0010-0008-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1766-11-07

Novr. 7th.

Went up to my common Pasture, to give Directions about Trimming the Trees, i.e. lopping and Trimming the Walnuts and Oaks and felling the Pines and Savines and Hemlocks. An irregular, misshapen Pine will darken the whole scene in some Places. These I fell, without Mercy, to open the Prospect and let in the sun and air, that the other Wood may grow the faster and that Grass may get in for feed. I prune all the Trees I leave, Buttonwoods, Elmes, Maples, Oaks, Walnuts, Savines, Hemlocks and all. The Pines that grow in that Pasture are, i.e. the white Pines are, very knotty, crooked, unthrifty Things.—I am desirous of clearing out the Rocky Gutter, i.e. of clearing away the { 323 } Bushes and pruning all the Trees that we may see clearly the Course of the Water there and judge whether it is worth while to dig up the Rocks, and make a Ditch for the Water. And for another Reason too, vizt. to let in the sun and Air, because that rocky Gutter produces a great deal of Feed, which I would be glad to sweeten.
Afternoon, went to Major Crosbeys to see him execute a Codicil to his Will. The old Gentleman is very desirous that the Province should comply with the K[ing]’s Recommendation, to make up the Damages to the sufferers.1
1. The sufferers at the hands of the anti-Stamp Act mobs. A legislative grant was at length made for this purpose, but to the annoyance of Bernard and Hutchinson it was linked with amnesty for the rioters (Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:113–115).