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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0255

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1782-09

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

[salute] My Dear Eliza

Mr. Robbins1 dined with us to day and has just now told me he intends to make you a vis this afternoon. I hope he will find you quite recovered, and wish you were to return with him. I shall want the pleasure of your company a Wedensy very much—and wish I could offer a sufficient inducement for you to return, tomorrow or next day. I know of nothing to write that will either amuse or give you pleasure. My head is quite barren, my heart is warm. Could you look there you would find it full of good wishes for your health, happiness and pleasure. You are pleased with your visit I know, I wish I was with you. My good my amiable aunt is doing every thing to amuse you, her endeavours will not fail of suckcess I dare say—I hope the dignity of my Eliza will have a good affect upon her cousin.2 If he knew that his conduct was exaggerated much, and heard the speach of every one, I think he woul[d] never have given the cause—but—I can say nothing in vindication of him. You are expected at Milton this week. I dont know how the disappointment will be survived—by—the good folks—whose hearts beat with expectation—for the approach of—Miss { 390 } ——C[ranc]h. I want to say something to you, to provoke you to answer this, if my wishes will not induce you to write me. Five letters in three days and not one line, or one thought, of Amelia. It is mortifiing Betsy how shall I help it. Do as you aught, Miss, says yourself and you will be thought of.—Ah—ah—ah—ah.—I am going to write to Miss Watson; have you aney thing to say to her. Mr. T——r3 goes tomorrow morning. Adieu my Dear I will release you from aney more nonsence, by subscribing your friend,
[signed] Amelia
I open my letter to tell you I dreamed a dream last night and had the pleasing idea of our friend T——s4 return but alas twas a false vision.—My Brother Charles is unwell.
RC (MHi:Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch Weymouth per by Mr Robbins”; endorsed: “AA Septembre 1782.” Minimal corrections of punctuation have been made, but they have not resolved all of AAz's girlish ambiguities.
1. Chandler Robbins of Plymouth, who had graduated from Harvard in July, had been engaged as tutor for CA and TBA after Thomas Perkins' departure; see AA to JA, 17–18 July, above; AA to John Thaxter, 26 Oct. 1782 (MB).
2. Which “aunt” and male “cousin” at Weymouth these may be is not clear.
3. Possibly Royall Tyler, although it does not seem likely that AA2 would at this point entrust him with letters to her friends.
4. Doubtless John Thaxter.

A Note on Citations in the Appendix

In the Appendix, minimal information is included in the notes to identify letters which are printed in Adams Family Correspondence, volumes 3 and 4. Full information as to location and printings of other letters or documents cited in the Appendix is supplied at the point of first reference. Thereafter, only sender, recipient, and date are given.


The Lovell Cipher and Its Derivatives

The earliest instance so far located in the Adams Papers in which a passage in cipher appears is in a letter from James Lovell to JA of 14 Dec. 1780, a copy of which (also in the Adams Papers) Lovell enclosed in his letter to AA of 19 December.1 The presumption raised by the absence of any accompanying key or explanation that there had been some earlier communication in reference to the cipher, and perhaps use of it, is borne out by two letters of Lovell written six months before.2 In the letter to JA, Lovell had written that the cipher was one which had already been “communicated to Doctr. Franklin and which will serve great numbers with equal safety.” Lovell's letter to AA informed her that the cipher was being communicated to her both for her own use in letters to JA and so that she would be able to decode letters written to her in it. No instances have been found in the Adams Papers in which JA or AA employed the cipher themselves, and both continued to experience difficulty in decoding it.
A reluctance to employ the cipher and even to attempt to decode it is attributable to an aversion or hostility to the clandestine implications and attendant ambiguities of secret writing. AA had been clear on the point, and associated her husband with her view, in declining to give her attention to the cipher proffered by Lovell: “I . . . thank you for your alphabeticall cipher tho I believe I shall never make use of it. I hate a cipher of any kind and have been so much more used to deal in realities with those I love, that I should make a miserable proficiency in modes and figures. Besides my Friend is no adept in investigating ciphers and hates to be puzzeld for a meaning.”3
AA, however, with time became “more reconciled to ambiguity and ciphers, than formerly”4 when confronted by repeated instances of intercepted letters and by Lovell's affirmation in his letter of 19 Dec. 1780 that information of importance to JA and to her was being denied her because Lovell judged it safe to communicate it only in { 394 } code: “If you had not bantered me so more than once about my generally-enigmatic manner, and appeared so averse to cyphers I would have long ago enabled you to tell Mr. A some Things which you have most probably omitted, as well as to satisfy your Eve on the present Occasion.”5
Lovell responded to the modification in AA's dislike of ciphers “from the necessity of them” by enclosing another “Alphabet [i.e. key] for your use” in his letter to her of 30 Jan. 1781.6 Some months afterward, when faced with the cipher in a letter, she managed to read it with substantial help from Richard Cranch.7 Much later, upon having sight, through Lovell, of JA's letter of 21 Feb. 1782 to Secretary Livingston,8 and learning from it that JA continued to be unable to crack the code, AA undertook to induct her “dearest Friend” into its mysteries, reporting, “I have always been fortunate enough to succeed with it.”9
Lovell seems to have been the deviser of the cipher, which he employed in writing to Franklin, to Dana, and to others, as well as to the Adamses. At least it was called “M. Lovell's Cypher,” and Edmund Randolph and Madison acknowledged him as their instructor. The cipher's first recorded use was in a letter from Lovell to Horatio Gates, 1 March 1779; it had currency at least until 1784 in private communications among those in government, and seems to have been at least informally adopted for official use.10 The President of Congress, Samuel Huntington, wrote to JA in the cipher, as did R. R. Livingston after he became Secretary for Foreign Affairs.11 There were variations of Lovell's cipher, other than changes in the key-word, in use among America's representatives abroad. Dumas employed one with which Franklin was familiar, and Francis Dana sent a more complicated system based upon the same principles as Lovell's to JA from Russia.12
Lovell's cipher was of the type built upon the substitution of numerical equivalents for agreed-upon letters from a key-word or phrase. { 395 } Each of the letters adopted for use served in turn as the initial element in alphabets arranged on a sheet in parallel vertical columns. A column of corresponding numbers placed alongside these columns of alphabets provided the equivalents for the letters of encoded words, the substitutions being made alternately from two alphabets, or if more than two then in strict rotation, forward or backward as desired. Since the alphabets normally included the ampersand as a final element, the numbers used in substitution were from 1 to 27. In the cipher's purest form the numbers 28 and 29 were used at the beginning of a passage as indication that the substitutions were being made in the normal or in a reverse order, and the number 30 was used as a blind. However, more frequently all three numbers (28–30) served as blinds. Any uncoded word or words broke the continuity, the next succeeding coded passage beginning with that alphabet used at the outset of the first encoded passage, unless 28 or 29 signaled reversal.
The key letters which Lovell used and instructed others to use in communications with JA, Franklin, and Dana were the letters c and r, which he derived from and clued to (at least for JA) the name Cranch. In writing to Elbridge Gerry, Lovell used as key letters e and o, representing the second and third letters “of the maiden Name of the Wife of that Gentleman from whom I sent you a Little Money on a Lottery Score.”13 Other keys, all employing more than two alphabets, were used in ciphers of the same type by Madison and Randolph (Cupid), Jefferson and William Short (Nicholas), and Lovell with other correspondents.14
The difficulties in decoding experienced by JA, as well as by Franklin and Dana, can be attributed in part to their receiving instruction in the cipher exclusively from a distance. What was easy for domestic users by explanation and demonstration close at hand proved formidable when communicated by mail, which had to conceal as well as explain. This may account for Lovell's adopting for his tutees abroad a simplified form of the cipher in which only two letters were used as the key.
A more serious hazard was that Lovell, the expositor, was gifted with neither precision nor lucidity, and having once formulated his directions, was given more to repetition and even playful variation than to real clarification. Lovell was frequently chided, particularly by AA, for his natural bent toward obfuscation: “If Mr. L——I will { 396 } not call me Sausy I will tell him he has not the least occasion to make use of them [ciphers] himself since he commonly writes so much in the enigmatical way that nobody but his particular correspondents will ever find out his meaning.” She followed this statement with a sentence she decided not to include in the recipient's copy, attributing to JA similar sentiments about Lovell's style: “I have seen my friend sometimes rub his forehead upon the receipt of a Letter, walk the room —What does this Man mean? who can find out his meaning.”15
Lovell's first instructions to JA, communicated in May 1780, were that the “Mode ... is the Alphabet squared . . . and the key Letters are the two first of the Surname of the Family where you and I spent the Evening together before we set out from your House on our Way to Baltimore. . . . Make use of any of the perpendicular columns according to your key Letters.” To this he appended a vertical column of numbers, 1–27, a second alphabetical parallel column beginning with a and ending with &, a third and fourth column beginning with b and c respectively and carried only through the fourth letter, the rest of the “Alphabet squared” indicated by dots of elision. Aside from indicating that the key letters or key-word could be altered at will and suggesting the means to communicate the new key, there was nothing more. Explaining the cipher just afterward to AA, Lovell, less fearful of interception, added no help beyond using for his illustrative columns two alphabets in which the first letters were c and r. When AA six months later asked for help, he responded only by enclosing the same two alphabetical columns.16 His instructions to Franklin in Paris, which Franklin on request sent to Dana, differed in no essential, concentrating on the selection of the key-word or letters.17 Not until June 1781, when he wrote to JA, “I suspect that you did not before understand it from my not having said supped in Braintree,” did he undertake clarification. This time his column of numbers extended to 30, the numbers 28, 29, and 30 “to be used as Baulks in the Beginning and End or within your Words”; and apparently for the { 397 } first time explained the “rule of Sequence”: “Make 2 Columns of Letters. . . . Begin your 1st Column with the first letter and your second Column with the 2d letter of the Family Name formerly referred to. Go on to &, then follow a b &c. &c. &c. Look alternately into the Columns.”18 When Secretary Livingston unhappily concluded that JA had not understood his earlier letters in cipher, written without awareness of the difficulty, he had Lovell enclose still another explanation: “You are to form Alphabets equal in number and of the same commencement and Range, as the Letters of the first sixth part of the family Name where you and I supped last with Mrs. Adams, and you are to look alternately into these constructed Alphabets opposite to my figures, for the Elements to spell with, some figures however I may have used as Baulks.”19 Nearly a year later Lovell tried again, but in the same language.20 Livingston, meanwhile, had apparently decided to resolve the problem by adopting a different cipher: “I am sorry for the difficulty the cypher occasions you, it was one I found in the Office, and is very incomplete. I enclose one that you will find easy in the practice, and will therefore write with freedom.”21AA, during the same period, in a brave but misguided moment had decided to try her hand at explaining: “Take the two Letters for which the figure stands and place one under the other through the whole Sentance, and then try the upper Line with the under, or the under with the upper, always remembering, if one letter answers, that directly above or below must be omitted, and sometimes several must be skiped over.”22
More than two years after his first attempt at explication, Lovell wrote to JA: “I have not to this day Information that you comprehend the Cypher which I have very often used in my Letters.”23 Livingston, noting JA's lack of response, concluded earlier that JA did not comprehend “the cyphers. ... I had them from the late committee of foreign affairs, tho' they say they never received any letters from you in them.”24JA's own allusions to the cipher not only confirm fully the doubts felt in Philadelphia, but also convey an unconcern that must have had an effect there: “Your Plan of a Cypher I cannot comprehend—nor can Dr. F. his”;25 “I have Letters from the President and { 398 } from Lovell, the last unintelligible, in Cyphers, but inexplicable by his own Cypher—some dismal Ditty about my Letters of 26th July—I know not what.”26 “I am on this Occasion as on all others hitherto utterly unable to comprehend the Sense of the Passages in Cypher. ... I have been able sometimes to decypher Words enough to show, that I have the Letters right; but upon the whole I can make nothing of it, which I regret very much upon this Occasion, as I suppose the Cyphers are a very material part of your letter.”27
The frustrations attendant upon the efforts of Congress' committee and of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs to have their representatives abroad master and use the cipher derived not from JA alone. Almost a year after JA reported Franklin's inability to comprehend it, Franklin himself wrote to Dana, “If you can find the Key and decypher it, I shall be glad, having myself try'd in vain.”28 Dana, in turn, seems to have had his own difficulties. To him Livingston wrote, “I need not tell you how impatient I shall be to hear that this has reached you, since I cannot use my cipher, till I receive a line from you written in it, nor can I write with freedom to you, till I have a cipher.”29
As for JA, while it is true that he gave an impression of insouciance in reporting his inability to comprehend the encoded messages, evidence exists that he made some effort to master Lovell's instructions. To Lovell's iteration of the clue to the key letters as the source of his difficulties, JA, with asperity, wrote, “I know very well the Name of the Family where I spent the Evening with my worthy Friend Mr.—— before We set off, and have made my Alphabet accordingly. . . . The Cypher is certainly not taken regularly under the two first Letters of that Name.”30 In the Adams Papers in JA's handwriting and endorsed “cypher” by him, undated, is a complete “Alphabet squared” with a vertical numerical column, 1–27, at left. The square is without indication that the columns in which c and r are the initial letters are more important than any others. A second attempt in JA's hand, also surviving in the Papers, and illustrated in the present volume, suggests one reason why he remained unenlightened. Across the top of the sheet is an alphabet including the ampersand, at the left is a vertical column of numbers, 1–30, paralleled by three columns of alphabets with initial letters a, c, and r. Failing to understand or to heed { 399 } Lovell's belated explanation that the numbers 28–30 were “baulks,” JA utilizes these numbers in the c and r columns to begin a new alphabetical cycle. Thus, in the one column the equivalent of c is not only 1 but 28, that of d is 2 and 29, of e, 3 and 30; in the second column the same holds true for r, s, and t. The application of such a system to the material in code could only produce results unsatisfactory to all.
A further account of the kinds of difficulties that recipients experienced in decoding the Lovell cipher is presented in the Descriptive List of Illustrations in the present volume, Nos. 3 and 4. The discussion there should be read in conjunction with what has been developed here, and the pertinent facsimile illustrations themselves examined.
Examples of other ciphers constructed on systems other than numerical substitution do exist in the Adams Papers. On the various types in use during the Revolutionary period, the discussions of the subject by Burnett and Boyd should be consulted.31
1. P. 36, above.
2. To JA, 4 May; to AA, post 4 May 1780, both in Adams Papers.
3. To Lovell, 11 June 1780, vol. 3:363, above.
4. To same, 3 Jan. 1781, p. 57, above.
5. P. 36, above.
6. Adams Papers. The new key is not now, however, with Lovell's letter.
7. Lovell to AA, 26 June 1781, p. 163, above; the undated fragmentary sheet containing Cranch's efforts to decode the ciphered passages is illustrated in the present volume.
8. LbC, Adams Papers; printed in JA, Works, 7:521–530; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:192–199.
9. To JA, 17 June 1782, p. 327, above.
10. Franklin to Dana, 2 March 1781, Adams Papers; Edmund C. Burnett, “Ciphers of the Revolutionary Period,” AHR, 22:331 (Jan. 1917); Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 7:149, 237, 451.
11. 5 July, 20 Nov. 1781, both in Adams Papers; Livingston's letter is printed without indication that passages are in cipher in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:849–851.
12. Livingston to JA, 26 Dec. 1781, Adams Papers, printed in Wharton, 5:73–74; Dana to JA, 18 Oct. 1782, Adams Papers.
13. 5 June 1781, MHi: Gerry-Knight Collection. Other examples of the cipher in the same collection are in letters from Lovell of 17 June, 13 July 1781.
14. Burnett, AHR, 22:331.
15. To Lovell, 11 June 1780, Dft, vol. 3:363, above. The Adamses' judgment of Lovell's deficiencies is amusingly echoed by CFA when in arranging the family's papers he came to read Lovell's letters: “A man whose situation gave his letters unusual interest. Yet he is so crackbrained that his prose is hardly intelligible and his cypher utterly unreadable. This is a great pity. Such half disclosures of the course of things are worse than none at all” (Diary, entry for 3 Jan. 1835).
16. 30 Jan. 1781>, Adams Papers. It should be noted, however, that at the end of his letter to AA of 8 Jan. he said flat out, without alluding to cipher or key: “This Evening four Years [ago] I passed with you at your Brother Cranche's” (above, p. 63).
17. Franklin to Dana, 2 March 1781.
19. Livingston to JA, 26 Dec. 1781, with enclosure of same date signed by Lovell and attested by L. R. Morris, Secy., “By Order Mr. Livingston,” Adams Papers.
20. To JA, 30 Nov. 1782, Adams Papers.
22. To JA, 17 June, p. 327, above.
23. 30 Nov. 1782.
26. To Dana, 12 March 1781, LbC, Adams Papers; printed in JA, Works, 7:377–378; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:284–285.
27. To Livingston, 21 Feb. 1782.
28. 2 March 1781. Franklin did, however, in the same letter write correctly two short passages in the cipher.
29. To Dana, 10 May 1782, in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:411–414.
30. To Livingston, 21 Feb. 1782.
31. AHR, 22:329–334; Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 6:x–xi.



{ 402 } { 403 }


The Adams Family, 1761–1782

N.B. This is the first Chronology to appear in the Adams Family Correspondence and covers vols. 1–4. See Introduction, 3:xxxviii–xxxix.
1761   Feb.   John Adams (JA) records arguments in Superior Court of Judicature on writs of assistance (Petition of Lechmere).  
1761   May   Upon the death of his father, JA inherits Braintree property (later known as the John Quincy Adams Birthplace).  
1761   Nov.   JA admitted to practice in the Superior Court of Judicature.  
1762   Spring   JA begins serving on town committees and traveling the Inferior and Superior Court circuits. His circuit riding continues for fourteen years.  
1762   Aug.   JA admitted barrister in the Superior Court of Judicature.  
1762   Oct.   Courtship correspondence of JA and Abigail, daughter of Rev. William Smith of Weymouth, begins.  
1763   Feb.   Treaty of Paris concluded, by which France cedes Canada, and Spain cedes the Floridas, to Great Britain  
1763   March   JA's first known newspaper contribution, signed “Humphrey Ploughjogger,” is published in the Boston Evening Post.  
1764   Feb.   Beginning of smallpox epidemic in Boston which was to last throughout the year.  
1764   April–May   JA inoculated in Boston for the smallpox, conducting almost daily correspondence with his fiancée at Weymouth.  
1764   Oct. 25   JA and Abigail Smith (AA) marry and make their home in the house inherited from JA's father.  
{ 404 }
1765   Jan.   JA joins a lawyers' “sodality” in Boston for the study of legal history and theory.  
1765   March   JA elected surveyor of highways in Braintree.  
1765   March   Stamp Act passed by the British Parliament; repealed in March 1766, but repeal is accompanied by the Declaratory Act.  
1765   June   JA travels the eastern court circuit to Maine for the first time.  
1765   July 14   Abigail (AA2), 1st daughter and eldest child of JA and AA, is born at Braintree.  
1765   Aug.–Oct.   JA publishes “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” in installments in the Boston Gazette.  
1765   Sept.   JA composes the Braintree Instructions denouncing the Stamp Act.  
1765   Dec.   JA named of counsel for Boston to plead for reopening of the courts.  
1766   March   JA elected a Braintree selectman.  
1766   July   JA becomes active in the improvement of professional practice of the law through the Suffolk bar association.  
1766   Aug.   Benjamin Blyth executes portraits of JA and AA.  
1767   July 11   John Quincy (JQA), 1st son of JA and AA, is born at Braintree.  
1768   April   The Adamses move to the “White House” in Brattle Square, Boston.  
1768   June   JA writes instructions for the Boston representatives to the General Court protesting the seizure of John Hancock's sloop Liberty. Later in the year he successfully defends Hancock in admiralty court against charges of smuggling in connection with the Liberty.  
1768   Sept.   British troops arrive in Boston Harbor to control resistance to Townshend Act duties, which are repealed, except for the tax on tea, in 1769.  
1768   Dec. 28   Susanna (d. 4 Feb. 1770), 2d daughter of JA and AA, is born in Boston.  
{ 405 }
1769   Spring   The Adamses move to Cole (or Cold) Lane, Boston.  
1769   May   JA writes instructions for the Boston representatives to the General Court protesting the presence of British troops and the growing power of admiralty courts.  
1769   May–June   JA successfully defends Michael Corbet and three other sailors in admiralty court for the killing of Lt. Henry Panton of the British Navy.  
1770   March   JA agrees to defend Capt. Thomas Preston and the British soldiers involved in the “Boston Massacre.”  
1770   May 29   Charles (CA), 2d son of JA and AA, is born in Braintree.  
1770   June   JA elected a representative to the General Court from Boston; serves until April 1771.  
1770   Oct.–Nov.   JA successfully defends Preston and the soldiers in the “Boston Massacre” trials.  
1770     The Adamses move during this year to “another House in Brattle Square.”  
1771   April   The Adamses move back to Braintree.  
1771   June   JA travels to Connecticut for his health and takes the mineral waters at Stafford Springs.  
1772   Sept. 15   Thomas Boylston (TBA), 3d son of JA and AA, is born in Braintree.  
1772   Nov.   The Adamses move to Queen Street (later Court Street) in Boston, and JA maintains his law office there until the outbreak of hostilities.  
1773   Jan.–Feb.   JA publishes articles in the Boston Gazette answering William Brattle and opposing crown salaries to Superior Court judges.  
1773   May   JA elected by the House a member of the Massachusetts Council but is negatived by Gov. Thomas Hutchinson.  
1773   Dec. 16   Boston Tea Party.  
{ 406 }
1774   Feb.   JA buys his father's homestead (later known as the John Adams Birthplace) from his brother Peter Boylston Adams.  
1774   March   JA furnishes legal authorities for impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Peter Oliver.  
1774   March   Boston Port Act passed by Parliament, closing port of Boston in June.  
1774   May   JA elected by the House a member of the Council but is negatived by Gov. Thomas Gage.  
1774   June   JA elected a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress. The family returns to Braintree.  
1774   June–July   JA travels “for the tenth and last time on the Eastern Circuit” in Maine, and parts with his loyalist friend Jonathan Sewall at Falmouth.  
1774   Aug.   JA travels from Boston to Philadelphia with the Massachusetts delegation to the Continental Congress.  
1774   Sept.–Oct   JA attends first Continental Congress.  
1774   Oct.–Nov.   JA returns from Philadelphia to Braintree.  
1774   Nov.–Dec.   JA attends first Provincial Congress in Cambridge as a member from Braintree.  
1774   Dec.   JA reelected to the Continental Congress.  
1775   Jan.–April   JA publishes essays signed “Novanglus” in Boston Gazette in answer to Daniel Leonard's “Massachusettensis” articles.  
1775   April 19   Lexington and Concord fights; first blood of the Revolution is spilled.  
1775   April–May   JA travels from Braintree to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.  
1775   May   Colonial forces lay siege to British army in Boston, now under the command of Howe and Clinton.  
1775   May–July   JA attends second Continental Congress; makes first proposal of Washington as commander in chief of a Continental Army.  
1775   June 17   AA and JQA watch Bunker Hill battle from Penn's Hill above their house.  
1775   July 3   Washington takes command of Continental forces at Cambridge. AA conveys a high opinion of him to JA in a letter of 16 July.  
1775   July   JA elected by the House a member of the Council; resigns in April 1776.  
{ 407 }
1775   July   JA writes letters to AA and James Warren ridiculing John Dickinson's conciliatory views; the letters are intercepted and published by the British in August and produce a lasting sensation that promotes the idea of independence.  
1775   Aug.   JA returns from Philadelphia to Braintree, attends the Massachusetts Council in Watertown, and is reelected to the Continental Congress.  
1775   Aug.–Sept.   JA travels from Boston to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.  
1775   Late summer and fall   Dysentery epidemic in Boston; JA's brother Elihu dies in camp in August, and AA's mother dies October 1.  
1775   Sept–Dec.   JA attends the Continental Congress and plays a principal part in the measures leading to the establishment of an American navy.  
1775   Oct.   JA appointed Chief Justice of Massachusetts; resigns in Feb. 1777 without ever serving.  
1775   Dec.   JA obtains leave from Congress and returns from Philadelphia to Braintree, attends the Massachusetts Council in Watertown, visits the army headquarters in Cambridge, and is reelected to the Continental Congress.  
1776   Jan.   JA drafts for the General Court a proclamation to be read at the opening of courts of justice and town meetings.  
1776   Jan.–Feb.   JA travels from Braintree to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.  
1776   Feb.–Oct.   JA attends the Continental Congress.  
1776   March 17   The British evacuate Boston.  
1776   March–April   After reading Paine's Common Sense, JA writes Thoughts on Government, published anonymously.  
1776   Spring and summer   Smallpox epidemic in Boston.  
1776   May   JA advocates establishment of new state governments and writes preamble to the resolution of 15 May recommending such action to the states.  
1776   June   JA appointed president of the newly formed Continental Board of War and Ordnance.  
1776   June–July   JA appointed to committee to draft a declaration of independence and makes the principal speech in favor of the resolution for independence, adopted on 2 July, followed by adoption of the Declaration of Independence, 4 July.  
{ 408 }
1776   June–Sept.   JA drafts a “Plan of Treaties” and instructions to the first American Commissioners to France.  
1776   July   AA and children inoculated for smallpox.  
1776   Sept.   JA journeys to Staten Island with Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge as a committee of Congress to confer with Admiral Lord Howe.  
1776   Oct.   JA obtains leave from Congress and returns from Philadelphia to Braintree.  
1776   Nov.   JA reelected to the Continental Congress.  
1777   Jan.   JA travels from Braintree to attend the Continental Congress sitting in Baltimore.  
1777   March   JA travels to Philadelphia when Congress adjourns to that city.  
1777   July 11   AA gives birth to a stillborn daughter, Elizabeth.  
1777   Aug.   Beginning of correspondence between AA and James Lovell, a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress; the correspondence continues with growing frequency and intimacy through early 1782, when Lovell leaves Congress.  
1777   Sept.   JA leaves Philadelphia upon the adjournment of Congress after the American defeat at Brandywine Creek, and travels to York, Penna., where Congress reconvenes.  
1777   Oct. 16   Burgoyne surrenders his northern army to the American forces under Gates at Saratoga.  
1777   Nov.   JA obtains leave from Congress, returns to Braintree, and resumes his law practice, traveling to Portsmouth in December to defend the owners of the Lusanna, He there learns he has been elected by Congress a joint commissioner (with Franklin and Arthur Lee) to France, replacing Silas Deane.  
1778   Feb. 6   Treaties of alliance and of amity and commerce between France and the United States signed at Versailles.  
1778   Feb.–March   JA and JQA sail from Quincy Bay aboard the Continental frigate Boston, Capt. Samuel Tucker, to Bordeaux.  
1778   April   JA and JQA join Franklin's household at the Hôtel de Valentinois in Passy; JA begins his efforts to put the affairs of the American joint mission on a businesslike footing. His personal tensions with Franklin begin.  
{ 409 }
1778   April   JQA enters M. Le Coeur's pension academy in Passy.  
1778   May   JA has his first audience with Louis XVI at Versailles.  
1778   Sept.   Joint commission dissolved and Franklin named sole minister to France.  
1778   Dec.   AA2 makes extended visit to the James Warrens in Plymouth, not returning to Braintree until May 1779.  
1779   Jan.   AA writes to a member of the Continental Congress severely criticizing Silas Deane's controversial address in defense of his conduct in France.  
1779   March   JA takes leave of the French court.  
1779   March–June   JA, accompanied by JQA, in Nantes, Brest, Lorient, Saint Nazaire, and on board the Alliance arranging for the exchange of prisoners of war and awaiting passage to America.  
1779   April   JA makes acquaintance with the Joshua Johnson family at Lorient, perhaps providing JQA with the opportunity of meeting Louisa Catherine Johnson (later his wife, LCA), then aged four.  
1779   April   By secret treaty Spain becomes a co-belligerent with France in the war against England.  
1779   June–Aug.   JA and JQA sail from Lorient to Boston with the Chevalier de La Luzerne, French minister to the United States, aboard the French frigate La Sensible, arriving home on 3 August.  
1779   Aug.   JA proposes founding the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, incorporated May 1780.  
1779   Aug.–Nov.   JA elected to represent Braintree in convention to frame a new state constitution; attends the convention and drafts The Report of a Constitution. . . for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is adopted, after alterations, by the convention and by the towns of Massachusetts in June 1780.  
1779   Sept.   JA elected minister by Congress with sole powers to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain; commissions revoked June–July 1781.  
1779   Nov.–Dec.   JA, JQA, and CA, accompanied by John Thaxter as JA's private secretary, sail from Boston aboard La Sensible to El Ferrol, Spain.  
1779   Dec.–Jan.   The Adams party travels across northern Spain. From Bilbao JA sends the first of his consignments of European goods to AA, of which a number more were to follow from time to time from mercantile firms in Spain, France, and the Netherlands.  
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1780   Jan.–Feb.   The Adams party travels from Bayonne to Paris and takes up residence at the Hôtel de Valois in Rue de Richelieu.  
1780   Feb.   JQA and CA enter an academy in Passy conducted by M. Pechigny.  
1780   Feb.–March   Russian Declaration of Armed Neutrality at sea, aimed at Great Britain and later joined by various northern powers; it eventually proves ineffective.  
1780   May 19   A meteorological phenomenon occurs in New England: “the Dark Day.”  
1780   Spring and summer   The correspondence between JA and the Comte de Vergennes on such topics as the former's announcing his mission, Congress' devaluation of Continental currency, and French naval strategy in American waters leads to an open breach between them.  
1780   June   JA commissioned an agent by Congress to negotiate a Dutch loan.  
1780   July–Aug.   Accompanied by his sons, JA travels from Paris to Amsterdam, before learning of his commission, to explore the possibility of Dutch financial aid to the United States.  
1780   Aug.–Nov.   JQA and CA attend the Latin School on the Singel in Amsterdam. They are withdrawn when JQA proves insubordinate.  
1780   Oct.   Treason of Benedict Arnold. Capture of Henry Laurens, with incriminating papers, at sea.  
1780   Dec.   Francis Dana elected by Congress American minister to Russia; he proceeds there in 1781 but is never officially recognized.  
1780   Dec.–Jan.   JA elected minister by Congress, in the place of Henry Laurens, to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the Netherlands.  
1781   Jan.   JQA, CA, and John Thaxter matriculate as students at the University of Leyden through arrangements made by Benjamin Waterhouse.  
1781   Jan.–Feb.   Great Britain begins hostilities against the Netherlands, using the captured papers of Henry Laurens as a pretext.  
1781   March   Maryland's ratification of the Articles of Confederation, adopted by Congress in 1777, makes the confederation of American states complete.  
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1781   March–May   JA drafts, submits, and prints a Memorial to the States-General urging Dutch recognition of American sovereignty.  
1781   April   JA rents and furnishes a house on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam. CA, because of illness and homesickness, leaves Leyden and comes to live with his father.  
1781   April   AA makes plans to buy land in Vermont and in the following year does so.  
1781   May   James and Mercy Otis Warren and their family move to Milton, occupying former Governor Hutchinson's house on Neponset Hill and thus becoming neighbors of AA.  
1781   June   JA elected by Congress first among five joint commissioners (JA, Franklin, Jay, Laurens, and Jefferson) to treat for peace with Great Britain. Their instructions make them strictly dependent on French advice and approval.  
1781   June   Austrian and Russian courts offer their services as mediators between the belligerents.  
1781   July   JA returns to Paris to discuss with Vergennes the proposed mediation of the Austrian and Russian courts; rejects Vergennes' proposals and returns to Amsterdam.  
1781   July   JA awarded LL.D. in absentia by Harvard College; not conferred until December.  
1781   July   AA writes letters to Lovell and to Elbridge Gerry, defending JA against aspersions cast on him by Franklin's letter to Congress of 9 Aug. 1780, written at the behest of Vergennes.  
1781   July–Aug.   JQA travels overland from Amsterdam to St. Petersburg as companion, interpreter, and clerk to Francis Dana.  
1781   Aug.   JA commissioned by Congress to negotiate a triple or quadruple alliance between the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States.  
1781   Aug.   CA starts his voyage home, traveling from the Texel aboard the South Carolina, Commodore Alexander Gillon, but disembarks at La Coruñia in September; completes his voyage, beginning in December, from Bilbao on the Cicero, Capt. Hugh Hill, arriving home late in January.  
1781   Aug.–Oct.   JA suffers severely from a nervous fever.  
1781   Sept.–Oct.   Siege of Yorktown ends in Cornwallis' surrender, 19 Oct., to the Franco-American allies.  
1782   Jan.–March   With the aid of Dutch friends, JA presses for recognition at The Hague.  
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1782   Feb.–March   North's ministry resigns and is replaced by that of Rockingham, which shortly sends peace emissaries to France.  
1782   April   JA is recognized by the States General as minister plenipotentiary to the Netherlands and granted an audience with the Stadholder, Willem V.  
1782   May   JA takes up residence at the Hôtel des Etats-Unis at The Hague, purchased by him as the first legation building owned by the United States in Europe.  
1782   June   JA contracts with a syndicate of Amsterdam bankers to raise the first Dutch loan to the United States, 5,000,000 guilders.  
1782   June(?)   JA publishes anonymously A Collection of State-Papers, Relative to the First Acknowledgment of the Sovereignity of the United States of America, and the Reception of Their Minister Plenipotentiary, by Their High-Mightinesses the States-General of the United Netherlands, The Hague, 1782.  
1782   June   First mention in the Adams correspondence of Royall Tyler, who later becomes engaged to AA2.  
1782   July   Shelburne succeeds as British prime minister following death of Rockingham.  
1782   Summer   JA conducts lengthy negotiations for a treaty of amity and commerce between the Netherlands and the United States, signed at The Hague, 8 October.  
1782   Oct.   JA travels from The Hague to Paris.  
1782   Oct.–Nov.   JA participates in negotiating and, with his fellow commissioners, signs at Paris, 30 Nov., the Preliminary Treaty of Peace between the United States and Great Britain. He remains in Paris.  
1782   Oct.–Nov.   JQA leaves St. Petersburg and travels via Finland and the Åland Islands to Stockholm, where he remains until the end of the year.  
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.