The letters and diary entries in section 10 are written when JQA is between twelve and fourteen, an age when young people struggle to make sense of their world. During these years, JQA's world encompasses most of the European continent. His travels across Spain, France, the Netherlands, the German states, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Finland expose him to many nationalities and religions. As he forms opinions about the many peoples he encounters, however, he is limited by the attitudes of his elders. The New England he has left behind is still mainly English and puritan, and so the citizens of JQA's region of the new United States do not have to confront issues of diversity.

When John Quincy is fourteen years of age, his father agrees to send him across the European continent to accompany Francis Dana on a mission to the Russian capital, St. Petersburg. Dana's assignment from Congress includes no provision for an assistant, but his inability to speak any foreign language puts him at a great disadvantage. Dana is well aware of JQA's ability to speak French, a language common to royalty in much of eastern Europe. Even though Dana's commission is never officially accepted by the Russian court, he does conduct some useful business, thanks in part to the interpretive skills of his young secretary.

JQA remains with Dana almost two years. When the sixteen-year-old returns to Paris in 1783, he arrives in time to witness his father's role in negotiating the peace treaty with Great Britain that officially ends the Revolutionary War.

Image credit:
Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783. Detail showing signatures. Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.