Diary of John Adams, volume 4

4 February–21 March 1780

255 Chronology Chronology
256 257
John Adams' Life and Public Service, 1735-1826
1735 Oct. 30 (Oct. 19, O.S.): Born in the North Precinct of Braintree (which in 1792 was taken off and named Quincy), Mass.
1740's Attends Mrs. Belcher's and Joseph Cleverly's schools in Braintree.
1750–1751 Attends Joseph Marsh's school in Braintree.
1751 Enrolls in Harvard College.
1755 July: Graduates A.B.
1755 Aug.: Begins to keep school in Worcester, Mass.
1755 Nov. 18: Begins his Diary.
1756 Aug.: Signs contract to read law with James Putnam for two years.
1758 July: Attends Harvard commencement and receives M.A.
1758 Oct.: Returns from Worcester to live in Braintree.
1758 Oct.–Dec.: Tries (and loses) first case as a practicing lawyer (Field v. Lambert) before Colonel and Justice Josiah Quincy in Braintree.
1758 Nov.: Admitted to the Suffolk bar, Jeremiah Gridley serving as his sponsor, and begins to practice in the Inferior Court of Common Pleas.
1760 Drafts essays on appointment of new chief justice and on evils of licensed houses.
1761 Feb.: Records arguments in Superior Court of Judicature on writs of assistance.
1761 May: Upon the death of his father, inherits Braintree property (later known as the John Quincy Adams Birthplace).
1761 Nov.: Admitted to practice in the Superior Court of Judicature.
1762 Spring: Begins serving on town committees and traveling the Inferior and Superior Court circuits. His circuit riding continues for fourteen years.
1762 Aug.: Admitted barrister in the Superior Court of Judicature.
1762 Oct.: His surviving courtship correspondence with Abigail, daughter of Rev. William Smith of Weymouth, begins.
1763 June–July: His first known newspaper contributions, signed “Humphrey Ploughjogger,” are published in the Boston Evening Post and Boston Gazette.
1764 April–May: Inoculated in Boston for the smallpox.
1764 Oct. 25: Marries Abigail Smith (AA) and brings her to live in the house inherited from his father.
1765 Jan.: Joins a lawyers' “sodality” in Boston for the study of legal history and theory.
1765 March: Elected surveyor of highways in Braintree.
1765 June: Travels the eastern court circuit to Maine for the first time.
1765 July 14: His 1st daughter, Abigail 2d (AA2), is born.
1765 Aug.–Oct.: Publishes “A Dissertation of Canon and Feudal Law” in installments in the Boston Gazette.
1765 Sept.: Composes the Braintree Instructions denouncing the Stamp Act.
1765 Dec: Named of counsel for Boston to plead for reopening of the courts.
1766 Jan.: Publishes three letters, signed “Clarendon,” in the Boston Gazette on the British constitution and American rights.
1766 March: Elected a Braintree selectman.
1766 July: Becomes active in the improvement of professional practice of the law through the Suffolk bar association.
1767 July 11: His 1st son, John Quincy (JQA), is born.
1768 March: Declines to stand again for Braintree selectman.
1768 April: Moves to the “White House” in Brattle Square, Boston.
1768 June: Writes instructions for the Boston representatives to the General Court protesting the seizure of Hancock's sloop Liberty.
1768 Dec. 28: His 2d daughter, Susanna (d. 4 Feb. 1770), is born.
1768 Winter: Successfully defends John Hancock in admiralty court against charges of smuggling in connection with the sloop Liberty.
1769 Spring: Moves to Cold (or Cole) Lane, Boston.
1769 May: Writes instructions for the Boston representatives to the General Court protesting the presence of British troops and the growing power of admiralty courts.
1769 May–June: Successfully defends Michael Corbet and three other sailors in admiralty court for the killing of Lt. Panton of the British Navy.
1769 Aug.: Takes two law clerks (Austin and Tudor) into his Boston office because of his expanding legal business.
1769 Sept.: Engaged by James Otis as co-counsel following the Robinson affray; case concluded in Otis” favor, July 1771.
1770 Jan.: Begins serving as clerk of the Suffolk bar association.
1770 March: Agrees to defend Capt. Thomas Preston, officer commanding the British soldiers in the “Boston Massacre.”
1770 May 29: His 2d son, Charles (CA), is born.
1770 June: Elected a representative to the General Court from Boston;serves until April 1771.
1770 Oct.–Nov.: Successfully defends Preston and the soldiers in the “Boston Massacre” trials. Moves during this year to “another House in Brattle Square.”
1771 April: Moves back to Braintree.
1771 June: Travels to Connecticut for his health and takes the mineral waters at Stafford Springs.
1772 Spring: Writes and presumably delivers a patriotic oration at Brain-tree at the request of the town.
1772 Sept. 15: His 3d son, Thomas Boylston (TBA), is born.
1772 Nov.: Moves to Queen Street (later Court Street) in Boston and maintains his law office there until the outbreak of hostilities.
1772 Dec.: Successfully defends Ansell Nickerson in admiralty court against charges of murder; case concluded in July-Aug. 1773.
1773 Jan.–Feb.: Publishes articles in the Boston Gazette answering William Brattle and opposing crown salaries to Superior Court judges.
1773 May: Elected by the House a member of the Council but is negatived by Hutchinson.
1774 Feb.: Buys his father's homestead (later known as the John Adams Birthplace) from his brother Peter Boylston Adams.
1774 March: Furnishes legal authorities for impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Peter Oliver. About the same time drafts report for General Court on Massachusetts” northern and western territorial claims.
1774 May: Elected by the House a member of the Council but is negatived by Gage.
1774 June: Elected a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress; moves his family to Braintree.
1774 June–July: Travels “for the tenth and last time on the Eastern Circuit” in Maine, and parts with his loyalist friend Jonathan Sewall at Falmouth (Portland).
1774 Aug.: Travels from Boston to Philadelphia with the Massachusetts delegation to the Continental Congress.
1774 Sept.–Oct.: Attends first Continental Congress.
1774 Oct.–Nov.: Returns from Philadelphia to Braintree.
1774 Nov.–Dec.: Attends first Provincial Congress in Cambridge as a member from Braintree.
1774 Dec.: Reelected to Continental Congress.
1775 Jan.–April: Publishes essays signed “Novanglus” in the Boston Gazette in answer to Daniel Leonard's “Massachusettensis” articles.
1775 March: Elected a selectman of Braintree.
1775 April–May: Travels from Braintree to Philadelphia.
1775 May–July: Attends second Continental Congress; proposes George Washington as commander in chief.
1775 July: Elected by the House a member of the Council; resigns in April 1776.
1775 July: Writes letters to AA and James Warren ridiculing John Dickinson's conciliatory views; the letters are intercepted and published by the British in August and produce a great sensation.
1775 Aug.: Returns from Philadelphia to Braintree, attends the Massachusetts Council in Watertown, and is reelected to Continental Congress.
1775 Aug.–Sept.: Travels from Boston to Philadelphia.
1775 Sept.–Dec.: Attends Continental Congress and plays a principal part in the measures leading to the establishment of an American navy, including the composition and publication of Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North-America.
1775 Oct.: Appointed Chief Justice of Massachusetts; resigns in Feb. 1777 without ever serving.
1775 Dec: Obtains leave from Congress and returns from Philadelphia to Braintree, attends the Massachusetts Council in Watertown, visits the army headquarters in Cambridge, and is reelected to Continental Congress.
1776 Jan.: Drafts proclamation for the General Court to be read at the opening of courts of justice and town meetings.
1776 Jan.–Feb.: Travels from Braintree to Philadelphia.
1776 Feb.–Oct.: Attends Continental Congress.
1776 March–April: Writes Thoughts on Government, which is “put ... under Types” by R. H. Lee and widely used in state constitution making.
1776 May: Advocates establishment of new state governments and writes preamble to the resolution of 15 May recommending such action to the states.
1776 June: Appointed president of the newly formed Continental Board of War and Ordnance.
1776 June–July: Appointed to committee to draft a declaration of independence and makes the principal speech in favor of the resolution for independence.
1776 June–Sept.: Drafts a “Plan of Treaties” and instructions to the first American Commissioners to France.
1776 Sept.: Journeys to Staten Island with Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge to confer with Admiral Lord Howe.
1776 Oct.: Obtains leave from Congress and returns from Philadelphia to Braintree.
1776 Nov.: Reelected to Continental Congress.
1777 Jan.: Travels from Braintree to attend Continental Congress sitting in Baltimore.
1777 March: Travels to Philadelphia when Congress adjourns to that city.
1777 March–Sept.: Attends Congress and continues to preside over the Board of War and Ordnance.
1777 July 11: His 3d daughter, Elizabeth, is stillborn.
1777 Sept.: Leaves Philadelphia upon the adjournment of Congress after the battle of Brandywine and travels to York via Trenton, Easton, Bethlehem, and Reading.
1777 Nov.: Obtains leave from Congress, returns to Braintree, and resumes his law practice, traveling to Portsmouth in December to defend the owners of the Lusanna. Elected by Congress a joint commissioner (with Franklin and Arthur Lee) to France, replacing Silas Deane; commission dissolved Sept. 1778, with Franklin named sole minister.
1778 Feb.–March: Sails with JQA from Quincy Bay aboard the Continental frigate Boston to Bordeaux.
1778 April: Joins Franklin's household at the Hotel de Valentinois in Passy.
1778 May: Received in first audience by Louis XVI of France.
1779 Feb.: Exchanges letters with Vergennes on the conduct of Silas Deane and in defense of Arthur Lee, and learns immediately thereafter he has been relieved of his joint commission.
1779 March: Takes leave of the French court.
1779 March–June: In Nantes, Brest, Lorient, Saint Nazaire, and on board the Alliance arranging for the exchange of prisoners of war and awaiting passage to America.
1779 June–Aug.: Sails from Lorient to Boston with La Luzerne aboard the French frigate La Sensible.
1779 Aug.: Proposes founding the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, incorporated May 1780.
1779 Aug.–Nov.: Elected to represent Braintree in convention to frame a new state constitution; attends the convention and drafts The Report of a Constitution ... for the Commonwealth of Massa chusetts which is adopted, after some amendments, by the voters of Massachusetts in 1780.
1779 Sept.: Elected minister by Congress to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain; commissions revoked June–July 1781.
1779 Nov.–Dec.: Sails with JQA and CA from Boston aboard La Sensible to Ferrol, Spain.
1779 Dec.–Jan.: Travels across northern Spain.
1780 Jan.–Feb.: Travels from Bayonne to Paris and takes up residence at the Hôtel de Valois in Rue de Richelieu.
1780 June: Commissioned an agent by Congress to negotiate a Dutch loan.
1780 July–Aug.: Travels from Paris to Amsterdam, before learning of his commission, to explore the possibility of Dutch financial aid to the United States. Remains in the Netherlands until July 1781.
1780 Dec.–Jan.: Elected minister by Congress to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the Netherlands.
1781 March–May: Drafts, submits, and prints a memorial to the States General urging Dutch recognition of American sovereignty.
1781 June: Elected by Congress first among five joint commissioners (JA, Franklin, Jay, Laurens, and Jefferson) to treat for peace with Great Britain.
1781 July: Returns to Paris to discuss with Vergennes the proposed peace mediation of the Russian and Austrian courts; rejects Vergennes' proposals and returns to Amsterdam, where he remains until Oct. 1782.
1781 July–Aug.: JQA leaves Amsterdam for St. Petersburg as private secretary to Francis Dana; CA begins his return voyage to America.
1781 Aug.: JA awarded in absentia LL.D. by Harvard College.
1782 Jan.–March: Presses for recognition at The Hague.
1782 April: Recognized by the States General as minister plenipotentiary to the Netherlands and granted an audience by the Stadholder, Willem V.
1782 May: Takes up residence at the Hotel des Etats-Unis at The Hague, purchased as the first American legation building in Europe.
1782 June: Contracts with a syndicate of Amsterdam bankers for the first Dutch loan to the United States, 5,000,000 guilders.
1782 Oct. 8: Signs at The Hague a treaty of amity and commerce with the Netherlands.
1782 Oct.: Travels from The Hague to Paris.
1782 Oct.–Nov.: Assists in negotiating and with his fellow commissioners signs at Versailles, 30 Nov., the Preliminary Treaty between the United States and Great Britain. Remains in Paris.
1783 April: JA, Franklin, and Jay begin conferences with David Hartley on terms of the Definitive Treaty.
1783 July: Travels to The Hague to meet JQA, recently returned from St. Petersburg.
1783 Aug.: Returns to Paris with JQA.
1783 Sept. 3: Signs with his fellow commissioners the Definitive Treaty with Great Britain in Paris.
1783 Sept.: Moves to Thomas Barclay's residence at Auteuil with a serious fever.
1783 Oct.: Travels with JQA from Auteuil to London.
1783 Nov.–Dec.: Visits Parliament and the sights of London, and journeys to Bath.
1784 Jan.: Crosses the North Sea to Amsterdam and executes a contract for a second Dutch loan as an emergency measure to save the credit of the United States.
1784 May–June: Elected by Congress a joint commissioner, with Franklin and Jefferson, to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with twenty-three European and African powers.
1784 June–July: AA and AA2 sail from Boston to England aboard the Active and meet JQA in London.
1784 Aug.: JA arrives in London from the Netherlands and joins his family; they travel to Paris and settle in Auteuil. The commissioners begin their deliberations, which continue until JA returns to London in May and Franklin leaves for America in July 1785.
1785 Feb.: Elected by Congress first American minister to the Court of St. James's; in March, Jefferson is named minister to Versailles in succession to Franklin.
1785 May: JQA leaves France for America and Harvard College; JA, AA, and AA2 leave Auteuil for London.
1785 June 1: JA is granted an audience with George III, and a dramatic conversation takes place.
1785 June: Leases first United States legation in London, now No. 9 Grosvenor Square.
1785 Aug.: Signs in London a treaty of amity and commerce with Prussia, Franklin having earlier signed at Passy and Jefferson at Paris.
1786 March–April: Visited by Jefferson in London to negotiate commercial treaties with Tripoli, Portugal, and Great Britain. JA and Jefferson tour English countryseats together.
1786 June 11: AA2 marries William Stephens Smith (WSS) at the London legation.
1786 July: JA takes an excursion to The Hyde and Braintree in Essex with AA, AA2, and WSS.
1786 Aug.–Sept.: Visits the Netherlands with AA to exchange ratifications of the treaty with Prussia and to observe the constitutional reforms of the Dutch Patriots.
1787 Jan.: Publishes in London the first volume of A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America; a second follows in September and a third in 1788.
1787 May–June: Journeys to Amsterdam and executes a contract for a third Dutch loan to the United States.
1787 July–Aug.: Takes excursion to the west of England with his family.
1787 July–Sept.: Arranges for the purchase of the Vassall-Borland house in Braintree in preparation for his return from Europe.
1787 Oct.: At his own request is recalled by Congress from London, his mission to the Netherlands, and his joint mission (with Jefferson) to the Barbary Powers; recall effective in Feb. 1788.
1788 Feb. 20: Granted final audience with George III.
1788 Feb.–March: Travels from London to The Hague to take leave of the Stadholder and the States General. At Jefferson's request JA contracts for a fourth Dutch loan to the United States.
1788 March–April: Returns to London and sets off with AA for the Isle of Wight.
1788 April–June: Sails with AA from Portland Harbor aboard the Lucretia to Boston.
1788 June: Elected a member of the Massachusetts delegation to the First Congress last sitting of the Continental Congress ; did not serve.
1788 June–Dec.: Stays in Braintree unpacking books, settling his new residence, and looking after his fields.
1789 March–April: Elected Vice President by 34 out of 69 votes.
1789 April: Travels from Braintree to New York City, the seat of government, and establishes his residence at Richmond Hill.
1789 April–Sept.: Presides over the Senate in 1st session of First Congress.
1789 Oct.–Nov.: Returns from New York to Braintree between sessions of Congress.
1789 Nov.–Dec.: Travels from Braintree to New York.
1790 Jan.–Aug.: Presides over the Senate in 2d session of First Congress.
1790 April: Begins publication of his “Discourses on Davila” in Fenno's Gazette of the United States; continued until April 1791.
1790 Sept.: Travels from New York to Philadelphia and back; leases Bush Hill for his new residence.
1790 Nov.: Moves with AA to Philadelphia, the new seat of government.
1790 Dec–March: Presides over the Senate in 3d session of First Congress.
1791 May: Elected president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; serves until 1813.
1791 May–Aug.: Becomes involved in a dispute with Jefferson growing out of the latter's endorsement of Paine's Rights of Man and subsequent attacks on Paine and Jefferson by JQA in his “Publicola” papers printed in the Columbian Centinel.
1791 May–Oct.: Returns to Braintree with AA between sessions of Congress.
1791 Oct.–April: Presides over the Senate in 1st session of Second Congress.
1792 April–May: Travels with AA from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1792 Nov.–Dec.: Returns to Philadelphia alone.
1792 Dec–March: Presides over the Senate in 2d session of Second Congress.
1793 Feb.: Reelected Vice President by 77 out of 132 votes.
1793 March: Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1793 Nov.: Returns to Philadelphia alone.
1793 Dec–May: Presides over the Senate in 1st session of Third Congress.
1794 May: JQA appointed by Washington minister resident to the Netherlands.
1794 May–June: JA travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1794 Nov.: Returns to Philadelphia.
1794 Nov.–Feb.: Presides over the Senate in 2d session of Third Congress.
1795 Feb.: Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1795 May–June: Returns to Philadelphia, AA accompanying him as far as New York.
1795 June: Presides over a special session of the Senate called to ratify Jay's Treaty.
1795 June–July: Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1795 Aug. 29: CA marries Sarah Smith (sister of WSS) in New York.
1795 Nov.–Dec: JA returns to Philadelphia.
1795 Dec–May: Presides over the Senate in 1st session of Fourth Congress.
1796 May: Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1796 May–Nov.: Spends the summer at the Old House in Quincy making farm improvements recorded in a renewed diary.
1796 Nov.–Dec.: Returns to Philadelphia.
1796 Dec: Elected President of the United States with 71 out of 139 votes, running against Thomas Jefferson, who became Vice President.
1796 Dec.–Feb.: Presides over the Senate in id session of Fourth Congress.
1797 March 4: Delivers his Inaugural Address and takes office as President.
1797 April 17: His mother, Susanna (Boylston) Adams Hall, dies.
1797 April–May: AA travels from Quincy to Philadelphia to join JA; they occupy the executive mansion (the former house of Richard Penn).
1797 May–July: Calls a special session of Congress to deal with the French crisis; appoints the 1st peace mission to France (Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry).
1797 June: Appoints JQA minister plenipotentiary to Prussia.
1797 July: Travels with AA from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1797 July 26: JQA marries Louisa Catherine Johnson (LCA) in London.
1797 Oct–Nov.: JA returns with AA from Quincy to Philadelphia.
1797 Nov.: Delivers his First Annual Message to Congress, which is largely devoted to the crisis in Franco-American relations.
1798 March: Delivers message to Congress on the dispatches from the American envoys to France; declares the existence of a state of quasi-war.
1798 April: Releases and publishes the XYZ dispatches at the request of the House of Representatives.
1798 Spring–Fall: Receives and answers scores of petitions and resolutions of loyalty; a number of them are published as A Selection of the Patriotic Addresses, to the President of the United States.
1798 May–June: Recommends and oversees the adoption of measures for establishing the Navy Department and creating a “provisional army” of ten thousand men.
1798 June: Appoints George Washington commander in chief.
1798 June–July: Signs into law the Alien and Sedition Acts.
1798 July–Aug.: Travels with AA from Philadelphia to Quincy; AA is taken seriously ill.
1798 Nov.: Returns to Philadelphia alone.
1798 Dec.: Delivers Second Annual Message to Congress revealing a more conciliatory disposition, and suggests the appointment of a new mission to France.
1799 Feb.: Appoints the 2d peace mission to France (William Vans Murray, Oliver Ellsworth, and Patrick Henry, the last being replaced by William Davie).
1799 March: Travels from Philadelphia to Quincy.
1799 Oct.: Travels to Trenton to meet his cabinet; precipitates a cabinet crisis by his order of 16 Oct. dispatching the commissioners to France.
1799 Oct.–Nov.: AA travels from Quincy to Philadelphia and joins JA there.
1799 Dec.: Delivers Third Annual Message to Congress urging peace and reconstruction and an end of civil disturbances. Federalist caucus supports JA for reelection.
1800 May: Dismisses James McHenry and Timothy Pickering from his cabinet. A second Federalist caucus reaffirms the choice of JA and C. C. Pinckney as the party's Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. AA returns to Quincy.
1800 May–June: Travels from Philadelphia to Washington to inspect the new seat of government.
1800 June: Returns to Quincy, where, under AA's orders, the east wing has recently been added to the Old House.
1800 Aug.–Sept: Alexander Hamilton attacks JA's administration in his Letter ... concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq.
1800 Sept.–Oct: Convention with France concluded at Mortefontaine by JA's 2d mission to France, ending the quasi-war and the Franco-American alliance of 1778; news of this arrives too late to affect the national election.
1800 Oct.–Nov.: Travels from Quincy to Washington; AA follows; and they are the first occupants of the still unfinished President's House.
1800 Nov. 30: His son CA dies in New York City.
1800 Dec: Defeated for reelection to the Presidency, winning only 65 votes against 73 won by both Jefferson and Burr.
1801 Jan.: Extends the influence of the federal judiciary through the appointment of many new judges. Appoints John Marshall chief justice of the Supreme Court. Reports the successful conclusion of the Convention with France.
1801 Feb.: Instructs John Marshall to prepare letters recalling JQA from Prussia.
1801 March: Travels from Washington to Quincy, leaving early on the morning of Jefferson's inauguration.
1801 Sept.–Nov.: JQA and LCA return from Berlin to Quincy.
1802 Oct.: JA begins writing his Autobiography, Part One, “John Adams”; completed in June 1805.
1803 JQA elected United States senator; serves until 1808.
1805 Feb.: JA resumes his correspondence with Benjamin Rush.
1805 May 16: TBA marries Ann Harrod of Haverhill, Mass.
1805 JA publishes collected edition of Discourses on Davila.
1806 Dec.: Begins Part Two of his Autobiography, “Travels, and Negotiations”; completed early in 1807.
1807 Writes Part Three of his Autobiography, “Peac”; breaks it off when he begins his controversy with Mercy Otis Warren about her History in July.
1809 April: Begins his documented letters of reminiscence in the Boston Patriot (his “second autobiography”), continued until May 1812.
1809 April–May: Publishes four letters in the Boston Patriot, soon afterward issued in pamphlet form under the title The Inadmissible Principles, of the King of England's Proclamation, of October 16, 1 1807 Considered.
1809 June: JQA appointed by Madison minister plenipotentiary to Russia, and sails in August with LCA and their son Charles Francis (CFA).
1812 Jan.: JA resumes, through the intercession of Benjamin Rush, his correspondence with Thomas Jefferson.
1813 Aug. 14: His daughter AA2 dies at the Old House.
1814 April: JQA leaves St. Petersburg for Ghent to join other American commissioners in negotiations for peace with Great Britain, concluded in December.
1815 Feb.: JQA appointed by Madison minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain; serves in London from May 1815 to June 1817.
1817 March: JQA appointed by Monroe secretary of state.
1817 Aug.: JQA and his family return to the Old House in Quincy before going into residence in Washington.
1818 Oct. 28: AA dies at the Old House.
1819 JA publishes collected edition of Novanglus and Massachusettensis.
1820 Nov.–Dec.: Attends sessions of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention as Quincy delegate; proposes that the Bill of Rights be amended so as to remove all religious restrictions.
1822 June–Aug.: Gives to the town of Quincy various tracts of granitebearing land, profits from which are to be used to build a church and an academy, and also his library, to be placed in the academy.
1824 Dec: In the national election JQA receives 84 electoral votes, a minority, and in the House vote-off, 9 Feb. 1825, he is elected President of the United States.
1826 July 4: JA dies at the Old House during the jubilee celebration of national independence, a few hours after Thomas Jefferson's death at Monticello in Virginia.