Early Diary of John Adams, volume 1

28. Thurdsday.

29 June 1753–January 1754.

29 Fryday. JA


29 Fryday. Adams, John
29 Fryday.

At Colledge, a Clear morning. Heard the valedictory oration, pronounced, By Oliver.1 2 o Clock set out for Boston, Designing to go from thence home.


Attendance at exercises being required of all students other than those in the graduating class until 1 July, and senior sophisters not being allowed, while preparing for their “sitting solstices” or oral examinations, to leave Cambridge between 21 March and 1 July (MH-Ar: Corporation Records, College Book No.7, Meeting of 21 May 1753), the last recitation day before 1 July became the appropriate time for a meeting in Hall. On this occasion, attended by the Presi-49dent and Fellows, speakers from the senior class, including a valedictorian chosen by his classmates, would perform (Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 119). Between this precursor of “class day” and commencement (in 1753 on 18 July) there seem to have been no regular recitations, though the formal summer vacation of six weeks did not begin until after commencement day.

Thomas Oliver (1734–1815), identified by JA as valedictorian for his class, also received Faculty appointment as orator at the morning exercises of commencement in 1753 (MH-Ar:Theses and Quaestiones, 1753, handwritten notation). On him see Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 13:336–344, and an article by Oliver Elton, Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns., 28 (1935):37–66.