Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

The Adams Family, 1787–1789


2 April: William Steuben Smith, AA2 and WSS's first child, is born in London.

24 April: JA departs for Portsmouth with John Brown Cutting to attend a hearing for a man accused of counterfeiting American currency. JA returns to Grosvenor Square by 30 April.

24 April – 30 Aug.: Congress sends WSS on a diplomatic mission to Portugal. He travels by way of France and Spain and writes AA2 at least 23 letters over the course of the trip.

25 May: The Constitutional Convention convenes in Philadelphia with a quorum of seven states.

25 May – 9 June: JA travels to the Netherlands with John Brown Cutting to salvage American credit there.

26 June – 11 July: Mary (Polly) Jefferson, accompanied by her family's slave Sally Hemings, arrives in London from Virginia. She remains under AA's care until she is escorted to Paris to join her father.

18 July: JQA and William Cranch graduate from Harvard College.

20 July – ca. 20 Aug.: AA, JA, and AA2, with her three-month-old son, William Steuben Smith, tour the county of Devonshire by way of Plymouth. Along the way, they visit Richard Cranch's family in Exeter.

21 July: CA and TBA arrive in Braintree to visit the Cranches.

25 July: CA leaves Braintree to visit the Shaws in Haverhill. TBA joins him on 1 August.

mid-Aug.: CA and TBA leave Haverhill to begin their junior and sophomore years, respectively, at Harvard.

27 Aug.: William Cranch begins his legal studies with Thomas Dawes in Boston.

3 or 10 Sept.: William Smith Jr., AA's brother, dies of “black jaundice.”

8 Sept.: JQA begins his legal studies with Theophilus Parsons in Newburyport.


17 Sept.: The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia adopts a new constitution and sends it to Congress for debate.

20–28 Sept.: Congress reads and debates the Constitution, then transmits it to the states for ratification.

26 Sept: Cotton Tufts purchases the Vassall-Borland estate on behalf of the Adamses. The farm, eventually known as the Old House, becomes JA and AA's permanent residence in Braintree (later Quincy).

Sept.: JA publishes the second volume of his A Defence of the Constitutions .

16 Oct.: Isaac Smith Sr., AA's uncle, dies.

ante 20 Oct.: JA, AA, and AA2 visit Thomas Brand Hollis at the Hyde for a week.

13 Nov.: John Thaxter Jr. marries Elizabeth Duncan of Haverhill.

29 Nov.: Following Thanksgiving dinner, a disturbance breaks out in the dining hall at Harvard, with students breaking windows and furniture. CA, a waiter in the hall, is punished for refusing to give evidence against his classmates and is dismissed from his job; TBA is also fined for participating.

18 Dec.: Jacob Norton is ordained at Weymouth, the first permanent minister there since the death of William Smith, AA's father.


9 Jan.: The Massachusetts state ratifying convention begins meeting in Boston; John Hancock is chosen president.

28 Jan. – 4 Feb.: CA and TBA visit JQA in Newburyport during part of their winter vacation.

6 Feb.: Massachusetts ratifies the Constitution by a vote of 187 to 168.

15 Feb.: Long-time Adams servants Esther Field and John Briesler marry in London.

20 Feb.: JA is granted a final audience with George III and formally takes his leave.

29 Feb. – 24/25 March: JA travels to the Netherlands to take leave of the stadholder and the States General. While there, at the request of Thomas Jefferson, he negotiates a fourth loan for the United States.

Feb.: JA publishes the third volume of his A Defence of the Constitutions .

ca. 20 March: AA2 and WSS leave London for Falmouth to sail to the United States on the ship Thyne. They embark for America on 5 April, sailing to New York via Halifax.


30 March: AA and JA depart from London first to Portsmouth then to the Isle of Wight to board the Lucretia. The vessel finally sails for Boston on 20 April.

21 May: AA2 and WSS arrive in New York City and establish their residence at Beaver Hall, Jamaica, Long Island.

6 June: The General Court elects JA to represent Massachusetts at the last sitting of the Continental Congress, but he does not serve.

17 June: JA and AA arrive in Boston where they are greeted by Gov. John Hancock and other Massachusetts dignitaries.

20 June: JQA is reunited with his parents at Boston and Braintree. John and Elizabeth Smith Shaw join the family at Braintree on 25 June, and CA comes down from Cambridge the following day.

mid-Aug.: CA begins his senior year at Harvard. TBA begins his junior year.

20–30 Sept.: JQA goes to Haverhill to be nursed by his aunt Elizabeth Smith Shaw for an illness related to recurring insomnia.

9 Nov.: John Adams Smith, AA2 and WSS's second child, is born on Long Island.

12 Nov. – late Jan. 1789: AA visits New York to assist AA2 after the birth of John Adams Smith.


25 Jan. – 20 March: AA2 and WSS return with AA to Braintree for an extended visit with family and friends.

11 Feb.: Elizabeth Cranch marries Rev. Jacob Norton of Weymouth.

4 March: The First Federal Congress convenes in New York City.

6 April: The Senate attains a quorum. It proceeds to open and count the votes of the electoral college. George Washington is unanimously elected president; JA is elected vice president, receiving 34 out of 69 votes.

13 April: JA departs from Braintree to assume his new office in New York. He stops along the way for celebrations at Hartford and New Haven, among other towns, and reaches New York on 20 April.

30 April: George Washington takes the oath of office as the first president under the new Constitution; JA is sworn in as vice president.

ca. 13 May: JA rents Richmond Hill, an estate on the Hudson River about two miles outside of the city, to serve as the Adamses' home in New York.


10 June: AA2, WSS, and their children move into Richmond Hill with JA.

17 June: AA leaves Braintree en route to New York, traveling via Rhode Island. She is accompanied by CA; her niece, Louisa Smith; and two servants. They arrive at New York on 25 June.

14 July: The storming of the Bastille marks the beginning of the French Revolution.

15 July: CA graduates from Harvard. He does not attend the commencement ceremony, however, as he has already moved to New York.

July–Sept.: CA studies law with Alexander Hamilton. After Hamilton is named secretary of the treasury, CA joins the law firm of John Laurance to complete his legal education; he remains there for two years.

7 Sept. – 14 Oct.: JQA leaves Newburyport and travels to New York to visit his family, arriving on 16 September. While in the city, he meets the president and attends sessions of Congress and the Supreme Court. JQA departs on 5 Oct., arriving back in Boston on the 8th and in Newburyport on the 14th.

26 Sept.: The Senate confirms Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state.

29 Sept.: The first session of Congress adjourns.

12 Oct. – late Nov.: JA visits Braintree.

15 Oct. – 13 Nov.: George Washington tours the New England states; on 24 Oct. he passes through Boston, where a procession is held in his honor. JA, TBA, and Lucy Cranch attend the festivities.

22 Oct.: Cotton Tufts Sr. marries Susanna Warner of Gloucester.

30 Oct.: JQA is part of the contingent welcoming Washington at Newburyport; the next day, he helps to escort Washington to the New Hampshire border.

12 Nov.: Esther and John Briesler and their children arrive in New York to work for the Adamses.

late Nov.: TBA visits his parents in New York; he stays until Jan. 1790.