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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0001-0004-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1771-05-15

Wednesday May 15th. 1771.

Argued before the Sessions the Question whether the Court had Authority by Law to make an Allowance of Wages and Expences, above the Fees established by Law to the Jurors, who tryed C[aptain] Preston and the Soldiers. The two Quincys, Otis and Adams, argued.1 Otis is the same Man he used to be—

He spares nor Friend nor Foe, but calls to Mind

like Doomsday, all the faults of all Mankind.

He will certainly soon relapse into his former Condition. He trembles. His Nerves are irritable. He cannot bear Fatigue.—“Brother A. has argued so prodigiously like a Rep[resentative] that I cant help considering him as the Ghost of one”—&c.2
1. The subject thus argued was explained and commented on by Josiah Quincy Jr. in an anonymous article in the Boston Gazette, 20 May 1771, which will also be found in Quincy's Reports, p. 382–386. The trials of Preston and the soldiers had for the first time in the history of the Massachusetts courts required keeping the jury together for more than one day, and the Superior Court therefore “Ordered, that it be recommended” to the Court of General { 15 } Sessions to make “a reasonable Allowance”of money to the jurors for their protracted service. The jurors then petitioned for this allowance, but the Court of Sessions “having a Doubt of their Power touching the Grant of the Prayer thereof, ordered the Petition to stand over for Argument at the Sessions in April.” The argument took place on 15 May, as JA records, and required the whole day. The prayer was refused on the ground “that the only Power of the Sessions to grant Monies must be derived from provincial Law,” and certainly not from an order or recommendation of the Superior Court. The itemized bill for lodging and subsisting the jurors in the soldiers' trial, a highly interesting document, is printed by John Noble in Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns., 5 (1902):59–60.
2. On 7 May Otis had been elected a Boston representative to the General Court in the place of JA.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.