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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0008-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-09-05


Anniversary of the ΦBK, Society.1 The members were, on that account excused from reciting. At 11. we met at The Butler's chamber. Harris and Beale were received, after which we proceeded on business. Mr. Paine, and the Orator, went first, and the others after them according to the order of admission. Mr. Andrews gave us a spirited, and well adapted Oration upon friendship. After it was finished, we returned to the Butler's Chamber. Packard then informed the Society, that there was in Town, a young Gentleman from Dartmouth College, by the name of Washburne; a Senior Sophister; who was very desirous of having the Society established there, and he was commissioned also, to express the same desire from several others of the same Class. It was questioned whether we had any right to grant a charter without consulting the Fraternities at New Haven, and Williamsburg. A number of arguments were used on both sides, and when it was put to vote there were 8 for consulting them, and 8 against it. It was again debated for some time, and, finally determined, by a considerable majority, that we should consult the brethren at New Haven, and Williamsburg; and at the same Time enquire whether it is their Opinion that each fraternity has a right to grant Charters out of their respective States.2 These debates took up more than an hour; after this we pro• { 91 } ceeded to choose our Officers. Mr. Paine was elected President, Mr. Ware Vice President, Little Secretary, and Fiske Treasurer. At about half past Two, we went to Mrs. Nutting's, and had a very good Dinner. Wit and Wine, the Bottle and the Joke, kept nearly an equal Pace. When the Prayer Bell rung we broke up, and attended Prayers.
We dansed in the evening at Mason's chamber till 9 o'clock.
1. Harvard's chapter was incorporated 5 Sept. 1781 (Catalogue of the Harvard Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa..., Cambridge, 1912, p. 100).
2. A letter, dated 20 Nov., was sent to New Haven, asking for their opinion on the subject, but it was not received until the following May; in the meantime, the Yale chapter sent Harvard a similar letter (CtY: Phi Beta Kappa Records; Catalogue of the Harvard Chapter, p. 111; entry for 21 Feb. 1787, below).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0008-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-09-06


This day the annual Dudleian Lecture was preach'd by Mr. Symmes of Andover; the subject was the validity of Presbyterian Ordination. There are four subjects which are alternately treated the first Wednesday in September. They are Natural Religion, Revealed Religion, The errors of the Romish Church, and that above mentioned. The founder was Mr. Dudley:1 who gave a Sum the annual interest of which is 12£ and is given to the Person who preaches the Lecture. The person is appointed by the President, the Professor of Divinity, the Senior Tutor, and the Minister of Roxbury, but they cannot choose a Person under 40 years old. Mr. Symmes's Lecture was a very good one, and the Sentiments he expressed were very liberal, though he was extremely severe in some places upon the Church of England.2
Mr. Cranch was here all the afternoon.
I was admitted into the Handel Sodality; and attended in the evening at Cranch's Chamber.
1. Paul Dudley, a provincial Massachusetts judge, willed to Harvard £133 6s. 8d. for an endowment to be known as the Dudleian lectures (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 4:52–53).
2. Unlike most other Dudleian lectures, Symmes' was never printed (same, 12:586).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0008-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-09-07


No reciting. Cranch went to Boston.
The Commonwealth is in a State of considerable fermentation. Last week at Northampton, in the County of Hampshire, a body of armed men to the number of three or four hundred, pre• { 92 } vented the Court of common Pleas from sitting, and bruised the high-sheriff dangerously, as it is reported.1 The same Court was likewise stopp'd the day before yesterday, at Worcester by 400 men. The Court went to a Tavern, and adjourned till yesterday. They were again prevented from proceeding yesterday, and adjourned without a day. The militia it seems could not be raised to quell them. The Governor issued a Proclamation,2 calling upon the People at large to support the Constitution, attacked in such a flagrant manner, and directing the State's Attorney, to prosecute the abbettors of these Riots. The Militia in the Town of Boston, have already offered their Services, and declared their determination to support the government with their Lives and Fortunes. Where this will end Time alone, can disclose. I fear, it will not before some blood is shed. The People complain of grievances; the Court of Common Pleas, the Senate, the Salaries of Public Officers, the Taxes in general, are all grievances, because they are expensive: these may serve as pretences, but the male-contents, must look to themselves, to their Idleness, their dissipation and extravagance, for their grievances; these have led them to contract debts, and at the same time have, rendered them incapable of paying them. Such disturbances if properly managed may be productive of advantages to a Republican Government, but if they are suffered to gain ground, must infallibly lead to a civil war, with all its horrors. This will not I believe be the Case at present; but such struggles seldom end without the loss of some Lives. Such commotions, are like certain drugs, which of themselves are deadly Poison but if properly tempered may be made, highly medicinal.
1. This event marked the first violence in what was to become Shays' Rebellion.
2. Printed in Massachusetts Centinel, 6 Sept.
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.