Diary of John Adams, volume 1

1761. Feb. 9th.

Marginal Note in Winthrop’s Lecture on Earthquakes.

March 3d. 1761. JA


March 3d. 1761. Adams, John
March 3d. 1761.

Mem. To enquire of Tufts, Gould, Whitmarsh, Hunts, Whites, &c. about their Method of mending High Ways by a Rate.

And to enquire at Worcester, whenever I shall get there of Chanlers, Putnam, Willard, Paine, Swan &c. about their Method. They mended their Ways by a Rate, I am sure.1

Saml. Clark, Jo. Field, Eb. Newcomb Danl. Nash, the Mirmidons of Thayer.

Luke Lambard, Ben Hayden, Saml. Clark &c. all the Mirmidons of Thayer &c. Mirmidons, Bulldoggs, Hounds, Creatures, Tools.2

Weymouth mends her Ways by a Rate. Each Man is rated so much, and a Days Work is estimated at so much, an Horse, a Cart, Yoke of oxen &c. at so much, so each Man has his Choice, to pay his Money or to work it out.—I did not think to ask What sum they expend yearly to mend Ways.

Quaere. How they mend their Ways, Streets, Lanes, Alleys &c. in Boston. Whether by a Rate. Is not the Town taxed for Pavement of streets &c. Q. Whether they ever permit those who choose it to work it out themselves.


According to his Autobiography, JA was this month nominated in town meeting, or perhaps only proposed for nomination by his friend and neighbor Elisha Savil, for his first town office, that of surveyor of highways. The usually reliable Braintree Town Records do not record his nomination or election at the annual meeting of the town on 3 March 1761 (p. 377) Either this is an error of omission, or else the account in his Autobiography telescopes JA’s very early interest in reforming the method of financing highway repairs and his later service (1764–1765) both as a member of a town committee to report a plan for “mending the Ways ... by a Tax” and as an assiduous builder of bridges and highways in the town. See Braintree Town Records , p. 395–400; also entry of 21 March, below.


The following two paragraphs are in a different ink and were probably written later than those that precede.