Legal Papers of John Adams, volume 2

New Pleadings

Editorial Note

Adams’ Minutes of the Trial<a xmlns="" href="#LJA02d007n1" class="note" id="LJA02d007n1a">1</a>: Suffolk Superior Court, Boston, August 1772 JA


Adams’ Minutes of the Trial: Suffolk Superior Court, Boston, August 1772 Adams, John
Adams' Minutes of the Trial1
Suffolk Superior Court, Boston, August 1772
Emmons vs. Brewer.

S amuel Quincy. Prov. Law. 1st in the Book. Obsolete.2

Against common right. Not to be done by Legislature.

Must be strictly pursued.


Not a total desolation. The Bricks Wall and Chimney standing.

Dont appear that the Justices and Select Men were notified. The Law says the Major Part of both. It must have been preceded by a Notification of all the Justices and select Men.

Not mentioned any Recompence to the Party.3

1. Black. 139.4 Regard to private Property.


In JA's hand. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185.


Act of 25 Oct. 1692, note 3 7 above. It is in fact the first statute in Acts and Laws, of His Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England 1–2 (Boston, 1759).


Quincy apparently refers here to the plea, and not to the statute, which provides (in the sentence following the language quoted by JA at note 3 7 above): “And where any particular persons shall have their land taken away or lessened thereby, a jury of twelve men shall be appointed by two justices of the peace, and sworn to ascertain the value thereof, to be paid by the person to whose land the same shall be added, or by the neighborhood town in proportion to the benefit or convenience any shall have thereby.”


1 Blackstone, Commentaries *139:

“So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community. If a new road, for instance, were to be made through the grounds of a private person, it might perhaps be extensively beneficial to the public; but the law permits no man, or set of men, to do this without consent of the owner of the land. . . . [T]he legislature alone can, and indeed frequently does, interpose, and compel the individual to acquiesce . . . by giving him a full indemnification and equivalent for the injury thereby sustained.”