Diary of John Adams, volume 1

1766. Jany. 3d. Fryday. JA


1766. Jany. 3d. Fryday. Adams, John
1766. Jany. 3d. Fryday.

Fair Weather and Snow enough. Major Miller, Dr. Savil and Mr. Joseph Penniman spent the Evening, with me. Agriculture, Commerce, Fishery, Arts, Manufactures, Town, Provincial, American, and national Politicks the Subject.—Anecdote, in the Beginning of the Year, Deacon Penniman was for reducing the Salary of the School Master from 330 to 300£. The Master Penniman insisted on keeping 286half the time in the Middle Precinct, if he had but 300, to which the Select Men agreed. But when the Time came for Penniman to remove to the School in the Middle Precinct, Moses French, who had for many Winters kept the School there, and had been an active Advocate for Deacon Penniman, complained that he had depended on that School, and had not provided any other Business, and petitioned to keep it. So that the Deacon was obliged to move the select Men to agree afresh with Penniman and allow him his 330£ to keep at the North End. Thus it seems the Deacon did not see to the End of the Year when he began it.

1766. Jany. 4. Saturday. JA


1766. Jany. 4. Saturday. Adams, John
1766. Jany. 4. Saturday.

Edes & Gill’s Gazette brought in. I find that Somebody has published the very scene in Shakespears Henry 8, which I have put into Ld. Clarendons Letter to Pym.1 This brings to my Mind again Ld. Bacons Doctrine of secret, invisible Connections and communications, and unknown undiscovered Laws of Nature. Hampden writes to Pym on the Failure of Justice in America, on the shutting up of the Courts of Justice, since October. He has given the Public Mr. Otis’s Arguments before the Governor and Council, from Magna Charta, Ld. Coke, the Judges Oaths &c.—and promises to give more.


See 25 Dec. 1765 and note, above. The scene from Henry the Eighth was printed in the Boston Gazette, 30 Dec. 1765, suppl., with an introductory note signed “A.B.” As a result, JA did not use it in his “Clarendon” letters.

Sunday. Jany. 5th. 1766. JA


Sunday. Jany. 5th. 1766. Adams, John
Sunday. Jany. 5th. 1766.

Heard Mr. Wibird all Day. A Sacramental Sermon on “It is finished.—”

Monday [6 January]. JA


Monday [6 January]. Adams, John
Monday 6 January.

At Home. Mr. Smith and Mr. Penniman dined here.

Tuesday [7 January]. JA


Tuesday [7 January]. Adams, John
Tuesday 7 January.

At Boston. Hampden has given us in Yesterdays Gazette, a long Letter to Pym upon shutting up the Courts, in which he proves from Holts and Pollexfens Arguments at the Revolution Conference, from Grotius De Jure Belli, B. 1. C. 3. §. 2. that shutting up the Courts is an Abdication of the Throne, a Discharge of the Subjects from their Allegiance, and a total Dissolution of Government and Reduction of 287all Men to a state of Nature. And he proves from Bracton that partial Tumults, &c. are not a Tempus Guerrium, (Bellorum) a Time of War.

Sam. Waterhouse has made a most malicious, ungenerous, Attack upon James Lovell Jur. the Usher of the Grammar school, and insinuated about feminine Gender and Conjunction Copulative—as Y.Z. and H. had attacked him, about Idleness and familiar Spirits, and Zanyship, and Expectancy of a Deputation &c.1 This Way of reviling one another is very shocking to Humanity and very dangerous in its Consequences. To pry into a Mans private Life, and expose to the World, all the Vices, and Follies of Youth, to paint before the Public Eye, all the Blotts and Stains, in a Mans private Character, must excite the Commisseration of every Reader, to the Object, and his Indignation against the Author of such Abuse.

Spent half an Hour with Father Dana, another with Samuel Quincy, an Hour with Mr. Otis, &c. Otis is in high Spirits, is preparing for next Mondays Paper.2 Says that Mr. Trail brings very comfortable News, that Conway told him the Stamp Act must be repealed, that there was some Difficulty about coming off with Honor and that America would boast that she had conquered Britain. But he hoped the Americans would Petition. He longed to receive some Petitions &c. John Wentworth writes his Uncle Saml., that the Marquis of Rockingham told him, he would give his Interest to repeal 100 stamp Acts, before he would run the Risque of such Confusions, as would be caused by Enforcing it. That he knew there were already 10,000 Workmen discharged from Business, in Consequence of the Advices from America.

Clarendon to Pym.3

Nothing gave me so much Regret, or such Remorse in my whole Life, as the Part I acted in conniving at some of King Charles’s grievous and illegal Measures, and the Pains I took to support him, and his two oppressive Instruments Laud and Strafford. But my very zealous Attachment to the Church and the enthusiastical Spirit of Party, made me see many Objects in a Partial Light. I have condemned my self for these faults from that Time to this. And it grieves me to hear that the Barbadians have acted so vile a Part, in the Year 1765. That Island was settled, under the Protectorate of Cromwell, by zealous Partisans for Passive Obedience, and I suppose a Remnant of the servile Spirit of their Ancestors, and of those ruinous Doctrines have prevailed on them to submit. I said under the Protectorate for I must own I can scarcely prevail on my self to call it an Usurpation, or the struggle 288made by you and Hampden and others, a Rebellion. If I was to revise my History, I should alter many Things which the Rage of Party hurried me to record, and in Particular, the Tittle of that Work.


These pieces appeared from time to time in both the Boston Evening Post and the Boston Gazette, Nov. 1765–Jan. 1766. They have decidedly lost their savor, if they ever had any. James Lovell (1737–1814), Harvard 1756, a teacher in the South Grammar School in Boston, achieved local celebrity by delivering the earliest of the anniversary orations on the “Boston Massacre,” 1771. A zealous patriot, he was elected to the Continental Congress late in 1776, where he served for five years on (and for long periods as) the Committee for Foreign Affairs, distinguishing himself equally, according to Edmund C. Burnett, by his diligence and his love of intrigue and mystification. In both his official capacity and as a family friend, Lovell corresponded voluminously with JA and AA, indiscriminately mixing international and personal affairs and views in his always lively letters. Burnett’s short account of Lovell in DAB is masterly, but a more comprehensive biography, drawing on his widely dispersed papers, is badly needed.


This can hardly mean anything else than that Otis was the author of the “Hampden” letters to “William Pym,” and that Otis told JA so at this time.


Draft of a fragment of the second “Clarendon” letter as published in the Boston Gazette, 20 Jan. 1766.