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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0012-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-11-01

Thursday November 1st. 1787.

I attended in the morning, and in the afternoon at the setting of the supreme Court. Judge Dana, took his seat, for the first { 313 } time since his illness; from which he has not yet, and I fear never will entirely recover. I dined at his house, and pass'd the evening with my old Clasmate Sam: Williams. The Cases before the Court were not very interesting, except one, which was so intricate, that I could not entirely comprehend it. Sullivan and Lowell spent their lungs, for three or four hours upon the cause, and it was 8 in the evening before it was given to the Jury. Sullivan asserted that in the Courts in this Country it was customary to take parol evidence, in preference to matter of record. This bare-faced falshood, was noticed by all the Court. Sumner1 shook his head. “You are totally mistaken Mr. Sullivan” said Cushing. “They have done so” said Sullivan; “Then” said Sewall, “I hope they will never do so again.” This is not an uncommon practice of Sullivan's; and when the whole Court are thus loudly against him he does not appear in the least abashed, but appears to display a countenance which never knew a blush.
I lodg'd at Packard's chamber.
1. Increase Sumner, a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 16:531–538).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0012-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-11-02

2d.

I breakfasted this morning with Stedman. A number of the lawyers were there; rather nettled at a bill now before the Senate, for the better regulating the fees &c of attorney's and practitioners. The Committee by whom it was drawn up, and presented, was composed of those persons who for these two years past have been the most violent of the Community, in their antipathy to lawyers.1
Blessed Times! I was so much engag'd this forenoon in other matters, that I could not attend at the Court. I called at Mr. Dana's and at Mr. Wigglesworth's, and took their letters for Newbury-Port. Dined at Mrs. Forbes's. Jack, and his brother James, arrived from Boston, just before dinner. It was almost 5 o'clock, when I got on my horse; and took leave of Forbes and Packard. Just after dusk, I got into Boston. Went to Mr. Dawes's, and found Wm. Cranch with whom I went and pass'd the evening at Dr. Tufts's lodgings.
Lodg'd at Mr. W. Smith's.
1. In Feb. 1787, in the aftermath of Shays' Rebellion, the Massachusetts legislature lowered court and attorney fees, an important cause of complaint among the rebels. When legislators attempted to enact further reductions at this time, the { 314 } lawyers were able to gather enough support to defeat the measure (Gerard W. Gawalt, The Promise of Power: The Emergence of The Legal Profession in Massachusetts, 1760–1840, Westport, Conn., 1979, p.65).