Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 1

Friday July 1st. 1785.


4th. JQA 4th. Adams, John Quincy

Calm weather continually: and so warm that it is almost insupportable. We still esteem ourselves 50 leagues East of the Bermudas. I wish'd very much to arrive in America before this day, which is the greatest day in the year, for every true American. The anniversary of our Independance. May heaven preserve it: and may the world still see

A State where liberty shall still survive In these late times, this evening of mankind When Athens, Rome and Carthage are no more The world almost in slavish sloth dissolv'd.1

JQA's quotation is from “Britannia,” lines 195–199, by James Thomson, a particular favorite of AA, who committed some of his work to memory. In Thomson's poem, the first line given above actually reads: “A state, alone, where Liberty should live” (The Complete Poetical Works of James Thomson, ed. J. Logie Robertson, London, 1908, p. 477; Adams Family Correspondence , 1:391).