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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3

This note contained in document ADMS-01-03-02-0003-0001-0001
1. This record of the voyage of AA and AA2 to Europe is inserted here from a duodecimo volume bound in brown boards (M/AA/1, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 197) that contains three brief journals kept by AA. The others (20–28 July 1787, 30 March-1 May 1788), since they help to fill large gaps in JA's own Diary, are inserted in their chronological places below. These are the only three diaries known to have been kept by AA.
As far back as 1782 AA had proposed joining her husband in Europe, and had even begged to do so. At first JA gave her qualified encouragement, but on 28 Dec. of that year he informed her that, having resigned all his commissions, he was waiting only for word from Congress to come home himself (Adams Papers). Expecting that the the Definitive Treaty would be settled and signed early in 1783, he was determined to sail home in one of the spring ships from the Texel. The delay in Hartley's arrival in Paris rendered this impossible, and upon receipt of Congress' vote of 1 May approving in principle (though not yet fully authorizing) a negotiation for a commercial treaty with Great Britain, he at once wrote to urge his wife to come over with their daughter, either immediately or in the spring (7 Sept. 1783, Adams Papers). He wrote still more urgently on 14 Oct., adding that “The Family affair which has been mentioned in Several of your Letters, may be managed very well. The Lady comes to Europe with you.—If the Parties preserve their Regard untill they meet again and continue to behave as they ought, they will be still young enough” (Adams Papers). These allusions are to AA2 and Royall Tyler, a young Harvard graduate (Class of 1776) and lawyer who had recently settled in Braintree and laid siege to AA2's affections; see AA to JA, 23 Dec. 1782, and JA's apprehensive reply, 22 Jan. 1783 (Adams Papers). On Tyler, who later gained celebrity as the first American playwright and distinction as a scholarly judge in Vermont, see DAB. His eventually unsuccessful suit of AA2 is fully documented in letters to be printed in the Adams Family Correspondence, Series II of the present edition. See also JA's Diary, 1 July 1786, below, and note there.
Despite trepidation about the rigors of the voyage itself and about her responsibilities as an American diplomat's wife in European capitals, AA began preparations late in 1783, but she did not sail until she received absolute assurance that JA was appointed one of the commissioners to negotiate commercial treaties; because of Congress' divided and vacillating mood, this was long in coming (AA to JA, 20 Nov. 1783, 3 Jan. 1784; Elbridge Gerry to AA, 16 April, 7 May 1784; all in Adams Papers). Thomas Jefferson, who on 7 May had been joined with JA and Franklin in the commission, replacing John Jay, hastened to Boston, as he wrote JA, 19 June, “in hopes of having the pleasure of attending Mrs. Adams to Paris and of lessening some of the difficulties to which she may be exposed” (Adams Papers; Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 7:309). But he was too late to forestall her sailing in the Active, which was “much crowded” with passengers, as he reported the day after she sailed (to David Humphreys, 21 June; printed in same, p. 311).
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.