Diary of John Adams, volume 1

January the 14th. 1756. JA


January the 14th. 1756. Adams, John
January the 14th. 1756.

At Worcester. A very rainy Day. Kept school in the forenoon; but not in the afternoon, because of the weather and my own indisposition.1


JA had come to Worcester “about three weeks after his commencement” at Harvard to keep a school. (Commencement in 1755 fell on 16 July.) The circumstances of his appointment are related in his Autobiography. The 2school he kept was the “Center School,” built in 1738 close to the site of the present Worcester County Court House in Lincoln Square, where a plaque now memorializes his brief career as a pedagogue (Daughters of the Amer. Rev., Report of the Committee on Historical Research and Marking Local Sites of the Colonel Timothy Bigelow Chapter, Worcester, 1903, passim). The town appropriated £75 for the support of its center and several outlying schools in 1755, but part of JA’s compensation was his keep (“Worcester Town Records,” Worcester Soc. of Antiquity, Colls., 4 [1882]:20).

During a later visit to Worcester JA recorded the names of some of the pupils he had taught at the Center School (entry of 2 June 1771, below).

15. JA


15. Adams, John

A fair morning and pretty warm. Kept school. Drank Tea at Mr. Swan’s, with Mr. Thayer.

16 Fryday. JA


16 Fryday. Adams, John
16 Fryday.

A fine morning. A large white frost upon the ground. Reading Hutcheson’s Introduction to moral Phylosophy.1 A beautiful Day and Evening. Din’d with Major Chandler.2


Francis Hutcheson, A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, in Three Books; Containing the Elements of Ethicks and the Law of Nature, Glasgow, 1747, and later edns., was long a popular textbook in Scotland and America. A number of works by Hutcheson survive among JA’s books in the Boston Public Library; see Catalogue of JA’s Library .


Gardiner Chandler (1723–1782), son of the third John Chandler (1693?–1762) and brother of the fourth John Chandler (1721–1800), with all of whom JA was on friendly terms during his years in Worcester. The leading family in pre-Revolutionary Worcester, the Chandlers tended to multiply and succeed each other in civil and military offices in a manner that often makes it difficult to tell which of them JA refers to in his jottings. “Major Chandler,” “the Major,” and “Gardiner” clearly signify Gardiner Chandler; “Judge Chandler” and “the Judge” always mean the third John Chandler; and “Colonel Chandler Jur.” the Judge’s son John. References to “Colonel Chandler” or “the Colonel” are, however, often ambiguous, especially after 1757, when all three Chandlers held the rank of colonel.

17 Saturday. JA


17 Saturday. Adams, John
17 Saturday.

A clowdy, dull, Day. Some snow about noon, and rain towards night. σπίζημαι, τα καθαρματα Ψυχησ. 1 Plato.


This passage remains a puzzle after examination by several authorities on Greek. It is not an accurate quotation from Plato, and nothing in the context gives a clue to what JA intended by the first word, which makes neither sense nor grammar as it stands. If we may read the first word as the noun ἐπιστῆ μαι , then the passage may be translated: “Sciences (or studies), the things that cleanse the soul.”

18 Sunday. JA


18 Sunday. Adams, John
18 Sunday.

A fair morning. Heard Mr. Maccarty.1


Rev. Thaddeus Maccarty (1721–1784), who at the preceding Harvard commencement had singled out JA to serve as schoolmaster in Worcester.