A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0001-0003-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1771-04-25

Thurdsday. April 25th. 1771.

Dined last Monday at Brighams in Southborough, and lodged at Furnasses in Shrewsbury. Next day dined at Mr. Putnams in Worcester, and at the same Place, dined on Wednesday. This day dined at Mr. Paines—with much Company. At about 2 O Clock this day We finished the famous Cause of Cutler vs. Pierpont and Davis—an Action of Trespass for compelling the Plaintiff to store his Goods with the Committee at Boston and carting him &c.1
We had Stories about Fort George, the Duke of York, and a warm Gentleman at Cambridge, Bob. Temple.
The D. of York was in a Battle at Sea, a cannon Ball hit a Mans Head and dashed his Blood and Brains in the Dukes Face and Eyes. The Duke started, and leaped quite out of the Rank. The Officer, who commanded, said, pray your Highness dont be frightened.—The Duke replyed Oh sir, I am not frightened but I wonder what Business that fellow had here with so much Brains in his Head.
The warm Gentleman at Cambridge was Bob. Temple. A Number of Gentlemen at Cambridge his Friends got into a Quarrell and Squabble and somebody knowing they all had a great Esteem of Temple begged him to interpose and use his Influence to make Peace. At last he was perswaded, and went in among the Persons, and one of the first Steps he took to make Peace was to give one of the Persons a Blow in the Face with his fist.
Strong insinuated privately at the Bar, another Story. He said the Defence put him in Mind of the Answer of a Young fellow to the Father of a Girl. The Father caught the young Fellow in naked Bed { 9 } with his Daughter. The old Man between Grief and Rage broke out into Reproaches.—You Wretch, what do [you] mean by trying to get my Daughter with Child? The Young fellow answered him, I try to get your Daughter with Child! I was trying not to get her with Child.
Thus, the Defendants are to be laughed and storied out of large Damages no doubt.
However the Jury gave none. They could not Agree. 8 were for Defendants, 4 for Plaintiff.
1. In June 1770 Ebenezer Cutler, a merchant of Oxford, tried to run two wagonloads of boycotted English goods out of Boston under cover of night. The watch at Boston Neck having observed him, a crowd of indignant citizens pursued and overtook him at Little Cambridge (Brighton), and forced him to return with his goods, which were impounded by the committee to enforce the nonimportation agreement. Cutler brought suit against Robert Pierpont, the Boston coroner, and Caleb Davis, two of the more respectable persons who had been present and who had, according to evidence adduced at the trial, actually tried to protect Cutler from the mob. Cutler asked £5,000 damages for assault, false arrest, and other “enormities” and won his case in the Worcester Inferior Court in September. JA was first involved in the case as counsel for the defendants in their appeal. The case was tried de novo in the current term of the Superior Court at Worcester, but despite eighteen hours of deliberation the jury could not agree, and it was continued until September, when the jury found for the defendants. JA could not take credit for this victory, but a year later, thanks to a writ of review, the case was argued again; JA's client Davis was cleared altogether, and Pierpont was found liable for £15. Cutler's final frantic effort to appeal to the King in Council seems to have come to nothing.
Though “famous” in its day, as JA says, the Cutler case was soon forgotten. But since the trials took place in Worcester and the evidence was taken by deposition to avoid the cost of bringing witnesses from Boston, the record of this typical incident of the era of nonimportation is peculiarly full and graphic. Some 130 documents relating to it are on file in the Suffolk co. Court House. See Superior Court of Judicature, Minute Books 90, 97; Records, 1771, fol. 140; 1772, fol. 124–125; Early Court Files, &c., Nos. 152615, 152686; also Boston Gazette, 29 April, 23 Sept. 1771, 21 Sept. 1772.

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

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1771-05-01

May 1st. 1771. Wednesday.

Saturday I rode from Martins in Northborough to Boston on horse back, and from thence to Braintree in a Chaise, and when I arrived at my little Retreat, I was quite overcome with Fatigue. Next Morning felt better, and arose early and walked, up Pens Hill and then round, by the Meadow, home.
After Meeting in the Afternoon Mr. Tudor and I rambled up the western Common, and took a View of a Place which I have never seen since my Removal to Boston. I felt a Joy, I enjoyed a Pleasure, in revisiting my old Haunts, and recollecting my old Meditations among the Rocks and Trees, which was very intense indeed. The rushing Torrent, the purling Stream, the gurgling Rivulet, the dark Thickett, the rugged Ledges and Precipices, are all old Acquaintances of mine. The { 10 } young Trees, Walnutts and Oaks which were pruned, and trimmed by me, are grown remarkably. Nay the Pines have grown the better for lopping.
This Evening at the Bar Meeting, I asked and obtained the unanimous Consent of the Bar to take Mr. Elisha Thayer of Braintree Son of Captn. Ebenr. Thayer Jur. as a Clerk.1 How few Years are gone since this Gentleman was pleased to call me a petty Lawyer at Majr. Crosbys Court. Now [he] is soliciting me to take his Son, and complementing &c. me, with being the first Lawyer in the Province, as he did, in express Words, tho it was but a Compliment, and if sincere in him was not true, but a gross Mistake, nay what is more remarkable still complimenting me with his Seat in the House of Representatives, as he did by assuring me in Words, that if I had an Inclination to come from Braintree, he would not stand in my Way.—Such are the Mistakes we are apt to make in the Characters of Men, and in our Conjectures of their future Fortune. This however is a wretched Tryumph, a poor Victory, a small Antagonist to defeat—And I have very few of this Kind of Conquests to boast of. The Governor tells of a vast No. of these Changes in Sentiment concerning him—and will be able to tell of many more.
1. Young Thayer stayed in JA's office less than two years, for in Feb. 1773 the members of the Suffolk bar voted that “the remaining part of Mr. Thayer's three years [with JA] be dispensed with under the peculiar circumstances of his case, but not to be drawn into precedent” and not to prejudice the bar's recommendation of Thayer to practice after another year (“Suffolk Bar Book,” MHS, Procs., 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:151). The “peculiar circumstances” no doubt related to Thayer's health; he died early in 1774 (JA to Ebenezer Thayer, 25 April 1774, Tr in CFA's hand, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 114).
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.