A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0004-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774-06-20

June 20th. 1774. Monday.

At Piemonts in Danvers, bound to Ipswich. There is a new, and a grand Scene open before me—a Congress.
This will be an assembly of the wisest Men upon the Continent, who are Americans in Principle, i.e. against the Taxation of Americans, by Authority of Parliament.
I feel myself unequal to this Business. A more extensive Knowledge of the Realm, the Colonies, and of Commerce, as well as of Law and Policy, is necessary, than I am Master of.
What can be done? Will it be expedient to propose an Annual Congress of Committees? to Petition.—Will it do to petition at all?—to the K[ing]? to the L[ords]? to the C[ommon]s?
What will such Consultations avail? Deliberations alone will not do. We must petition, or recommend to the Assemblies to petition, or—
The Ideas of the People, are as various, as their Faces. One thinks, no more petitions, former having been neglected and despized. Some are for Resolves—Spirited Resolves—and some are for bolder Councils.
I will keep an exact Diary, of my Journey, as well as a Journal of the Proceedings of the Congress.1
1. On 13 May Gen. Thomas Gage arrived in Boston to relieve Gov. Hutchinson and to enforce the “Coercive Acts,” passed by Parliament as punishment for the destruction of the tea; Hutchinson sailed for London on 1 June, the day the Boston Port Act went into effect (Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:329). On 25 May the new General Court met, and JA was once again elected by the House a member of the Council, only to be negatived, with twelve others, by Gage next day (Mass., House Jour. , May–June 1774, p. 6–7). On instructions from the crown, Gage adjourned the legislature from Boston to Salem, 7 June (same, p. 8). Ten days later the Journal records: “Upon a Motion, Ordered, that the Gallaries be clear'd and the Door be shut,” and a committee on the state of the Province reported that “in Consideration of the unhappy Differences” between Great Britain and the colonies, “it is highly expedient and necessary that a Meeting of Committees from the several Colonies on this Continent be had on a certain Day, to consult upon the present State of the Colonies and the Miseries to which they are reduced by the Operation of certain Acts of Parliament respecting America” (same, p. 44). The House adopted these recommendations in virtually the same language and proceeded to elect “a Committee on the Part of this Province, to consist of five Gentlemen, any three of whom to be a Quorum,” to meet with “Committees or Delegates” from the { 97 } other colonies at Philadelphia or any other suitable place on 1 Sept. Those chosen were James Bowdoin, Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, JA , and Robert Treat Paine; £500 was appropriated for their expenses; and Gage immediately, but too late, dissolved the General Court (same, p. 44–45).

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0004-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774-06-25

1774. June 25th. Saturday.

Since the Court1 adjourned without Day this afternoon I have taken a long Walk, through the Neck as they call it, a fine Tract of Land in a general Field—Corn, Rye, Grass interspersed in great Perfection this fine season.
I wander alone, and ponder.—I muse, I mope, I ruminate.—I am often In Reveries and Brown Studies.—The Objects before me, are too grand, and multifarious for my Comprehension.—We have not Men, fit for the Times. We are deficient in Genius, in Education, in Travel, in Fortune—in every Thing. I feel unutterable Anxiety.—God grant us Wisdom, and Fortitude!
Should the Opposition be suppressed, should this Country submit, what Infamy and Ruin! God forbid. Death in any Form is less terrible.
1. Essex Superior Court, sitting at Ipswich.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0005-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1774-08-10

Boston. August 10. Wednesday.1

The committee for the Congress took their departure from Boston, from Mr. Cushing's house, and rode to Coolidge's, where they dined in company with a large number of gentlemen, who went out and prepared an entertainment for them at that place. A most kindly and affectionate meeting we had, and about four in the afternoon we took our leave of them, amidst the kind wishes and fervent prayers of every man in the company for our health and success. This scene was truly affecting, beyond all description affecting. I lodged at Colonel Buck's.2
1. This entry and the one immediately following (first entry under 15 Aug.) are transcribed from JA, Works , 2:340–341, no MS source for them having been found.
JA 's correspondence and Autobiography supply the information that from Ipswich he had gone “for the tenth and last time on the Eastern Circuit” in Maine, where, on a hill above Casco Bay, took place the affecting separation between him and Jonathan Sewall—“the sharpest thorn on which I ever sat my foot” ( JA , Preface to Novanglus and Massachusettensis, Boston, 1819, p. vi). By mid-July JA was back in Braintree with his family, but he was soon caught up in work for the distressed town of Boston, being appointed on 26 July to a committee to receive donations for the relief of the inhabitants (which proved a burdensome assignment) and to another committee appointed to consider “proper Measures to be adopted for the common Safety” (Boston Record Commissioners, 18th Report , p. 185).
2. Robert Treat Paine's entry in his Diary (MHi) for this day adds a few details:
“At 11 o'clock the honble. Thos. Cushing Esq. and the other Commission[ers] of Congress for this Province sat out in a Coach and four and four Servants, the honble. James Bowdoin not { 98 } being able to go on Account of the Indisposition of his Family; We dind at Coolidge at Watertown in Company with between 50 and 60 Gentlemen from Boston who rode out to take their leave of us and give us their best Wishes for our Success on the Embassy. Thence we rode to Col. Buckminster at Framingham and lodged, a very hot day.”
JA omits the next three days in his Diary, but Paine recorded that the party set out at 5 in the morning of the 11th, breakfasted at Westborough, and proceeded through Worcester, dining “in good season,” and then on to Spencer, where they lodged. On the 12th they again started at 5, breakfasted at Brookfield, dined at Palmer, and lodged at Springfield. They did not leave Springfield until 10 the next morning, dined at Suffield, and lodged at Hartford, the weather remaining “hot and very dry and dusty.” The 14th being a Sunday, they went to meeting and rested.