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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0004-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-07-20

London July 20. Thursday.

“Every Act of Authority, of one Man over another for which there is not an absolute Necessity, is tyrannical.”
“Le Pene che oltre passano la necessita di conservare il deposito della Salute pubblica, sono ingiuste di lor natura.” Beccaria.1
{ 195 }
The Sovereign Power is constituted, to defend Individuals against the Tyranny of others. Crimes are acts of Tyranny of one or more on another or more. A Murderer, a Thief, a Robber, a Burglar, is a Tyrant.
Perjury, Slander, are tyranny too, when they hurt any one.
1. “All punishments that go beyond the requirements of public safety are by their very nature unjust” —Beccaria, Deidelitti e delle pene, ch. 2. JA is quoting from his own copy of the Italian text (new edn., Haarlem and Paris, 1780, p. 10), which he had acquired in July 1780. This passage is near the end of ch. 2. The quotation in English in the preceding paragraph of this entry is also from Beccaria, ch. 2 (near the beginning of that chapter), but is taken from JA's copy of the English translation (An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, London, 1775, p. 7). This shows that JA used the original and the translation together, but the new Italian edition of 1780 varies markedly in its text from the version on which the earlier translation was based. Both volumes are among JA's books in the Boston Public Library; JA presented the English translation to his son TBA in 1800.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0004-0006

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-07-21

London July 21. Fryday.

Maj. Langbourne dined with Us again. He was lamenting the difference of Character between Virginia and N. England. I offered to give him a Receipt for making a New England in Virginia. He desired it and I recommended to him Town meetings, Training Days, Town Schools, and Ministers, giving him a short Explanation of each Article. The Meeting house, and Schoolhouse and Training Field are the Scaenes where New England men were formed. Col. Trumbul, who was present agreed, that these are the Ingredients.1
In all Countries, and in all Companies for several Years, I have in Conversation and in Writing, enumerated The Towns, Militia, Schools and Churches as the four Causes of the Grouth and Defence of N. England. The Virtues and Talents of the People are there formed. Their Temperance, Patience, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, as well as their Sagacity, Knowledge, Judgment, Taste, Skill, Ingenuity, Dexterity, and Industry.—Can it be now ascertained whether Norton, Cotton, Wilson, Winthrop, Winslow, Saltonstall, or who, was the Author of the Plan of Town Schools, Townships, Militia Laws, Meeting houses and Ministers &c.
1. Many years later Richard Rush, while serving as American minister in England, wrote JA that “An old Scotch woman, in North-Shields, signing herself Ann Hewison,” had sent him (Rush) “a manuscript Quarto” of extracts from the diary of William Langborn “during his travels through several parts of Europe.” No trace of Langborn's diary has been found, but Rush copied into his letter the following passage from it:
“London July 18. 1786. Saturday—Did myself the pleasure, agreeably to yesterdays invitation, of dining with Mr. Adams and his family. We had but one stranger, he remarkable for his American attachments. Our dinner was plain, neat, and good. Mrs. Adams's accomplish• { 196 } ments and agreeableness would have apologized for any thing otherwise; after dinner took an airing in the park.
”Thursday the 23. Dined again with Mr. Adams. Mr. Trumball, a student of Mr. Wests was there. The English custom although bad still exists; we set to our bottle; I not for wine, but for the conversation of the Minister, which was very interesting, honest and instructive. He informed us that the Portuguese Minister had by order of his Queen a pleasing piece of intelligence, which was, that her fleet in the Mediterranean had her orders to give the same protection to all American vessels as to her own. I must not forget Mr. Adams's requisites to make citizens like those republicans of New England; they were, that we should form ourselves into townships, encourage instruction by establishing in each public schools, and thirdly to elevate as much the common people by example and advice to a principle of virtue and religion” (Rush to JA, 2 May 1818, Adams Papers).
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/