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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0010-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-08-29


At about 9 o'clock I set off for Boston, and stopp'd half an hour, at my uncle Adams's. Saw my Grandmother. I had agreed with Mr. Tyler, to wait for him at Genl. Warren's, half an hour. I stay'd more than an hour but he did not come. Mrs. Warren surprized me very much by informing me that Mr. Otis, with whom I dined on Saturday; had failed that evening. She said it was a very unexpected stroke to the family themselves. I believe before long every merchant in Boston will fail: for they seem all, to be breaking, one after the other. Charles Warren is to sail the latter end of this week for Cadiz. He was worse to day than common. It was noon before I got to Boston. I dined at Mr. Breck's in Company with the french Consul Mr. Toscan, and Mr. Appleton the brother of the gentleman I was acquainted with in England and France. It rain'd hard in the afternoon, so that we were obliged to stay; all the afternoon. At about 8 o'clock I left them all there, just ready to sit down to Cards. I thought if once I sat down there would be no getting away till very late. I found Deacon Smith and his family at Dr. Welch's.1 They all look'd very dull: the old gentleman especially appeared very much affected, Mr. Otis married his Daughter,2 and his failing, was very unexpected to him.
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1. Thomas Welsh (1752–1831), a Boston physician and an army surgeon at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. His wife, Abigail Kent (1750–1825), was a niece of Deacon Isaac Smith and a cousin of AA.
2. Deacon Smith's daughter Mary (1757–1839) married Samuel Allyne Otis, a second marriage for both, in 1782.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0010-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-08-30


This day the Supreme Judicial Court met, and I went and heard the chief justice, Mr. Cushing1 deliver the charge to the grand Jury. He spoke with much dignity, and animadverted peculiarly upon the neglect, which many of the towns in the Commonwealth, have shown of late with respect to public schools. After the charge was deliver'd Mr. Thatcher2 was called upon for a prayer, and although he had not a minute's warning spoke very well, and without the least embarassment. I dined at Deacon Smith's, and after dinner waited upon Miss Betsey Cranch, to her lodgings. I afterwards mounted my horse, and went to Cambridge where I shall pass the night with my brother. I was caught in the rain, on the road and was almost wet through and through. Charles is much pleased with his situation; and has acquired an additional importance since he enter'd College.3
1. William Cushing, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1777 and later an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court for twenty-one years (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 13:26–39).
2. Peter Thacher, well-known for his orations and addresses during the Revolutionary era, was pastor of the Brattle Street Church from 1785 to 1802. He recorded in his diary this day that he gave a “prayer unexpectedly in the Supreme Court” (same, 17:237–247; MHi:Thacher Papers).
3. JQA probably is commenting upon CA's good fortune in acquiring a college room and showing promise as a scholar since entering Harvard earlier in the month. He elaborated to AA2 that “Charles is very much pleased with his situation here: and comes on well with his Studies. His Class is one of the most numerous of any that have entered” (JQA to AA2, 29 Aug.–7 Sept., Adams Papers). Unlike many of his classmates who were forced to live in town, CA roomed in Hollis Hall, where “cousin Billy” also lived (Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 14 Aug.–[15?] Sept., Adams Papers). JQA seemed pleased with CA's “Chambermate,” Samuel Walker, “a youth, whose thirst for knowledge is insatiable. . . . I am perswaded it will afford peculiar Satisfaction to our Parents, who well know how much benifit is derived from the Spur of Emulation” (JQA to AA2, 20–28 Aug., Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0010-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-08-31


This morning Mr. Chaumont came to the College, with Mr. Toscan, and two other french gentlemen, Mr. Issotier, and Mr. Serano. We went and saw all the curiosities belonging to the Col• { 317 } lege, which are not very numerous. There are several exceeding fine pictures done by Mr. Copley, all portraits. The library is good, without being magnificent. We all paid a visit to Mr. Willard the president of the College. The other gentlemen left me with him, and after he had made enquiries concerning my acquisitions: he advised me to wait till next spring before I offer: and then enter for three months in the junior Sophister Class.1 I left him and return'd to the gentlemen. We went back to Boston, and got there at about 11. I paid a number of visits, and dined with Deacon Storer.2 After dinner I went with Mr. Chaumont and visited Mr. Cushing the lieutenant Governor: but he was not at home. I met Mr. Appleton, and went with him to his father's house. Return'd in the evening to Mr. Storer's, and supped there. Rec'd a letter from my Sister, through N. York.3
1. Joseph Willard, president of Harvard, 1781–1804. Willard advised JQA to study Greek and Latin, two studies in which he needed further preparation, with his uncle John Shaw in Haverhill (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 16:253–265; Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 14 Aug.–[15?] Sept. 1785, Adams Papers).
2. Ebenezer Storer, a Boston merchant, treasurer of Harvard College since 1777, and deacon of the Church in Brattle Square (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:208–214).
3. AA2 to JQA, 13 June, not found.
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.