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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-01-16

1770 January 16.

At my Office all Day.
Last Evening at Dr. Peckers with the Clubb.—Otis is in Confusion yet. He looses himself. He rambles and wanders like a Ship without an Helm. Attempted to tell a Story which took up almost all the Evening. The Story may at any Time be told in 3 minutes with all the Graces it is capable of, but he took an Hour. I fear he is not in his perfect Mind. The Nervous, Concise, and pithy were his Character, till lately. Now the verbose, roundabout and rambling, and long winded. He once said He hoped he should never see T.H. in Heaven. Dan. Waldo took offence at it, and made a serious Affair of it, said Otis very often bordered upon Prophaneness, if he was not strictly profane. Otis said, if he did see H. there he hoped it would be behind the Door.—In my fathers House are many Mansions, some more and some less honourable.
In one Word, Otis will spoil the Clubb. He talkes so much and takes up so much of our Time, and fills it with Trash, Obsceneness, Profaneness, Nonsense and Distraction, that We have no [time]1 left for rational Amusements or Enquiries.
{ 349 }
He mentioned his Wife—said she was a good Wife, too good for him—but she was a tory, an high Tory. She gave him such Curtain Lectures, &c.2
In short, I never saw such an Object of Admiration, Reverence, Contempt and Compassion all at once as this. I fear, I tremble, I mourn for the Man, and for his Country. Many others mourne over him with Tears in their Eyes.
1. Word omitted by the diarist.
2. On Ruth (Cunningham) Otis, see Tudor, James Otis, p. 19–21.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-01

[Draft of a Newspaper Communication, January? 1770.]1

[epigraph]
“If I would but go to Hell for an eternal Moment or so, I might be knighted.”
Governor Winthrop to the Inhabitants of New England.
My dear Children—
You may well imagine, that no Lapse of Time, nor any Change whatever can render me totally inattentive or indifferent to your Interests. They are always near my Heart. I am as anxious as ever for your Welfare and as studious to avert the most distant Calamity that threatens or can befall you.
Your present Danger arises wholly from that general Cause of the Ruin of Mankind I mean Ambition. Your Agrarian Laws, and your frame of Government, are much better callculated than most others to oppose, to disarm, and restrain this fell Distroyer.
But, as no Government can possibly be contrived or conceived that shall wholly eradicate this Passion from human Nature, so yours is very far from being the best that can be conceived from [for?] preventing its ill Effects.
1. Obviously incomplete as it stands, and no printing has been found. Other apparently related fragments will be found under Aug.? 1770 and 9 Feb. 1772, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0014-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1770-02-26

1770. Monday Feby. 26. or Thereabouts.

Rode from Weymouth. Stoppd at my House, Veseys Blacksmith shop, my Brothers, my Mothers, and Robinsons.
These 5 Stops took up the day. When I came into Town, I saw a vast Collection of People, near Liberty Tree—enquired and found the funeral of the Child, lately kil’d by Richardson was to be attended. Went into Mr. Rowes, and wanned me, and then went out with him to the Funeral, a vast Number of Boys walked before the Coffin, a vast { 350 } Number of Women and Men after it, and a Number of Carriages. My Eyes never beheld such a funeral. The Procession extended further than can be well imagined.
This Shewes, there are many more Lives to spend if wanted in the Service of their Country.
It Shews, too that the Faction is not yet expiring—that the Ardor of the People is not to be quelled by the Slaughter of one Child and the Wounding of another.1
At Clubb this Evening, Mr. Scott and Mr. Cushing gave us a most alarming Account of O[tis]. He has been this afternoon raving Mad-raving vs. Father, Wife, Brother, Sister, Friend &c.2
1. “Feb. 26. This afternoon the Boy that was killed by Richardson was buried. I am very sure two thousand people attended his Funerall” (Rowe, Letters and Diary, p. 197). The Boston Gazette of 5 March devoted half a column to these obsequies. The “Child” was Christopher Snider, eleven or twelve years old, who had been shot and killed by Ebenezer Richardson, an employee of the customs, on 22 Feb., when taunted in his house by a group of boys after a demonstration against a merchant known to have violated the nonimportation agreement. On April 20–21 Richardson and another customs man present at the shooting, George Wilmot, were indicted and tried for murder in Suffolk Superior Court. Wilmot was acquitted; Richardson was found guilty but was pardoned by the King. The affair was a dramatic prelude to the “Boston Massacre.” See Boston Gazette, 26 Feb. 1770; Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Book 91; Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 3:193–194, 206 and note; Oliver M. Dickerson, “The Commissioners of Customs and the ’Boston Massacre,’” NEQ, 27:310–312 (Sept. 1954). A copy of the defense counsel’s argument, in an unidentified hand but docketed by JA, is in the Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185. Robert Treat Paine acted for the crown (Paine, “Minutes of Law Cases, 1760–1774,” MS, MHi).
2. Inserted loose in the MS at this point is a receipted bill to JA from M. Cooke in the amount of £11 2s., for copying seventeen cases, here listed, for “March C[our]t 1770.”
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/