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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-02-26

1770. Monday Feby. 26. or Thereabouts.

Rode from Weymouth. Stoppd at my House, Veseys Blacksmith shop, my Brothers, my Mothers, and Robinsons.
These 5 Stops took up the day. When I came into Town, I saw a vast Collection of People, near Liberty Tree—enquired and found the funeral of the Child, lately kil’d by Richardson was to be attended. Went into Mr. Rowes, and wanned me, and then went out with him to the Funeral, a vast Number of Boys walked before the Coffin, a vast { 350 } Number of Women and Men after it, and a Number of Carriages. My Eyes never beheld such a funeral. The Procession extended further than can be well imagined.
This Shewes, there are many more Lives to spend if wanted in the Service of their Country.
It Shews, too that the Faction is not yet expiring—that the Ardor of the People is not to be quelled by the Slaughter of one Child and the Wounding of another.1
At Clubb this Evening, Mr. Scott and Mr. Cushing gave us a most alarming Account of O[tis]. He has been this afternoon raving Mad-raving vs. Father, Wife, Brother, Sister, Friend &c.2
1. “Feb. 26. This afternoon the Boy that was killed by Richardson was buried. I am very sure two thousand people attended his Funerall” (Rowe, Letters and Diary , p. 197). The Boston Gazette of 5 March devoted half a column to these obsequies. The “Child” was Christopher Snider, eleven or twelve years old, who had been shot and killed by Ebenezer Richardson, an employee of the customs, on 22 Feb., when taunted in his house by a group of boys after a demonstration against a merchant known to have violated the nonimportation agreement. On April 20–21 Richardson and another customs man present at the shooting, George Wilmot, were indicted and tried for murder in Suffolk Superior Court. Wilmot was acquitted; Richardson was found guilty but was pardoned by the King. The affair was a dramatic prelude to the “Boston Massacre.” See Boston Gazette, 26 Feb. 1770; Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 91; Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:193–194, 206 and note; Oliver M. Dickerson, “The Commissioners of Customs and the ’Boston Massacre,’” NEQ , 27:310–312 (Sept. 1954). A copy of the defense counsel’s argument, in an unidentified hand but docketed by JA , is in the Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185. Robert Treat Paine acted for the crown (Paine, “Minutes of Law Cases, 1760–1774,” MS , MHi).
2. Inserted loose in the MS at this point is a receipted bill to JA from M. Cooke in the amount of £11 2s., for copying seventeen cases, here listed, for “March C[our]t 1770.”

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0003-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-06-19

Ipswich June 19. 1770. Tuesday Morning.1

Rambled with Kent, round Landlord Treadwells Pastures, to see how our Horses fared. We found them in Grass, up to their Eyes. Excellent Pastures. This Hill on which stand the Meeting House and Court House, is a fine Elevation and We have here a fine Air, and the pleasant Prospect of the winding River, at the foot of the Hill.
1. Preceding this entry is a gap of nearly four months in the Diary record, with no space left for it in the MS . Accordingly there is no strictly contemporary mention by JA of the episode known as the Boston Massacre, in the consequences of which he was to be so deeply involved, though in his Autobiography he gave an account of what he did and saw on the evening of 5 March and of the circumstances under which he agreed, next day, to defend Capt. Thomas Preston.
On 6 June JA was elected a delegate to the General Court from Boston in the room of James Bowdoin, who had been elected to the Council. He was at once caught up in the bitter and protracted { 351 } dispute between the legislature and Lt. Gov. Hutchinson over the meeting-place of the General Court; see the House Journal for this year, passim. From June 1770 to April 1771, his single term as a member of the House, JA ’s name, as CFA remarked, “appears upon almost every important committee” (JA, Works , 1:109). An impressive tabulation of these committee assignments will be found in a long note in the same, 2:233–236.