Early Diary of John Adams, volume 1

9 Saturday.

Harvard Colledge June 8th. 1753. JA


Harvard Colledge June 8th. 1753. Adams, John
Harvard Colledge June 8th. 1753.
8 Friday.1

At Colledge.2 A Clowdy, Dull morning, and so continued till about 5 a Clock, when it began to rain moderately But continued not long, But remained Clowdy all night in which night I watched with Powers.3


The first day of the first quarter of the 1753–1754 academic year (MH-Ar: Steward’s Records, Quarterbill Books, 1720–1756). For a discussion of the impulses and influences leading JA to start a diary record at this time, the beginning of his third or junior sophister year at Harvard, see Introduction, p. 32–34.


During his last three years in college JA lived in the “lowermost northwest chamber” of Massachusetts Hall, then designated as No. 3, subsequently No. 19. In his sophomore year just completed, he shared these quarters with Thomas Sparhawk ’55; as both junior and senior sophister he had as his roommate Joseph Stockbridge ’55. (MH-Ar: Faculty Records, District Reports, 1st ser., 1752–1755.)


Peter Powers (1728–1800), Harvard 1754, came from Hollis, N.H., and lived in Massachusetts 4; he became the first minister of Newbury, Vt, and, later, of Deer Isle, Maine (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 13:472–478).

The meaning of the phrase “watched with Powers” is susceptible of several interpretations. Commonly, to “watch with” meant to remain awake at the bedside of a sick person (see OED ). One could also “watch” the heavens through a telescope with a fellow student, as JA later remembered doing with his classmate David Sewall “from the Roof of old Harvard Colledge i.e. Hall” (JA to Benjamin Waterhouse, 17? Aug. 1817, MHi:Adams-Waterhouse Coll.). But since the weather “remained Clowdy all night,” this interpretation hardly seems applicable. Finally, there was a local Harvard meaning for “watch,” meaning to retain, by permission, a light in one’s study for as much as two hours beyond the required 9 p.m. student retiring hour (Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 28).