Diary of John Adams, volume 1

Tuesday Jany. 14th. 1766. JA


Tuesday Jany. 14th. 1766. Adams, John
Tuesday Jany. 14th. 1766.

Dined at Mr. William Coopers with Messrs. Cushing, Story, and John Boylstone. Cushing, silent and sly as usual. Story I dont know what. Cooper and Boylstone principal Talkers. Boylstone, affecting a Phylosophical Indifference about Dress, Furniture, Entertainments &c., laughed at the affectation of nicely distinguishing Tastes, such as the several Degrees of Sweet till you come up to the first degree of bitter, laughed at the great Expences for Furniture, as Nick Boylstones Carpetts, Tables, Chairs, Glasses, Beds &c. which Cooper said were the richest in N. America.—The highest Taste and newest Fashion, 294would soon flatten and grow old.—A Curse or two upon the Climate, preferable however to Carolina. But every Part of Europe preferable to this.—Query. Is not this Nicety of Feeling, this Indisposition to be satisfyed with the Climate, of the same Nature with the Delicacy of Tastes, and the Curiosity about Furniture just before exploded.—Spent the Evening at Cunninghams.

Wednesday. Jany. 15th. 1766. JA


Wednesday. Jany. 15th. 1766. Adams, John
Wednesday. Jany. 15th. 1766.

Dined at Mr. Isaac Smiths. No Company, no Conversation. Spent the Evening with the Sons of Liberty, at their own Apartment in Hanover Square, near the Tree of Liberty. It is a Compting Room in Chase & Speakmans Distillery. A very small Room it is.

John Avery Distiller or Merchant, of a liberal Education, John Smith the Brazier, Thomas Crafts the Painter, Edes the Printer, Stephen Cleverly the Brazier, Chase the Distiller, Joseph Field Master of a Vessell, Henry Bass, George Trott Jeweller, were present.

I was invited by Crafts and Trott, to go and spend an Evening with them and some others, Avery was mentioned to me as one. I went, and was very civilly and respectfully treated, by all Present. We had Punch, Wine, Pipes and Tobacco, Bisquit and Cheese—&c. I heard nothing but such Conversation as passes at all Clubbs among Gentlemen about the Times. No Plotts, no Machinations. They Chose a Committee to make Preparations for grand Rejoicings upon the Arrival of the News of a Repeal of the Stamp Act, and I heard afterwards they are to have such Illuminations, Bonfires, Piramids, Obelisks, such grand Exhibitions, and such Fireworks, as were never before seen in America.—I wish they mayn’t be disappointed.

Thurdsday. Jany. 16th. 1766. JA


Thurdsday. Jany. 16th. 1766. Adams, John
Thurdsday. Jany. 16th. 1766.

Dined at Mr. Nick Boylstones, with the two Mr. Boylstones, two Mr. Smiths, Mr. Hallowel1 and the Ladies. An elegant Dinner indeed! Went over the House to view the Furniture, which alone cost a thousand Pounds sterling. A Seat it is for a noble Man, a Prince. The Turkey Carpets, the painted Hangings, the Marble Tables, the rich Beds with crimson Damask Curtains and Counterpins, the beautiful Chimny Clock, the Spacious Garden, are the most magnificent of any Thing I have ever seen.

The Conversation of the two Boylstones and Hallowell is a Curiosity. Hotspurs all.—Tantivi.2—Nick. is a warm Friend of the Lieutenant 295Governor, and inclining towards the Governor. Tom a firebrand against both. Tom is a perfect Viper—a Fiend—a Jew—a Devil—but is orthodox in Politicks however. Hallowell tells stories about Otis and drops Hints about Adams, &c., and about Mr. Dudley Atkins of Newbury. Otis told him, he says, that the Parliament had a Right to tax the Colonies and he was a d—d fool who deny’d it, and that this People never would be quiet till we had a Council from Home, till our Charter was taken away, and till we had regular Troops quartered upon Us.

He came up under the He says he saw Adams under the Tree of Liberty, when the Effigies hung there and asked him who they were and what. He said he did not know, he could not tell. He wanted to enquire.

He says Mr. Dudley Atkins was too well acquainted with the Secret of some riots there, to be entirely depended on, in his Account, &c.

Nick Boylstone is full of Stories about Jemmy and Solomon Davis. Solomon says, Country man I dont see what Occasion there is for a Governor and Council and House. You and the Town would do well enough.

Spent the Evening at Bracketts with Gen. Winslow, Coll. Bradford, Mr. Otis, Father Danforth, Coll. Richmond, Mr. Brinlys, and Mr. Caldwell and Captain Hayward. Mr. Otis gave Us some Account of Ruggles’s Behaviour, at the Congress,3 and Winslow told Us about catching Bass with Eeel Spears, at the North River. Otis says, that when they came to sign Ruggles moved that none of them should sign, but that the Petitions should be carried back to the assemblies, to see if they would adopt them. This would have defeated the whole Enterprize. This Ruggles has an inflexible Oddity about him, which has gained him a Character for Courage and Probity, but renders him a disagreable Companion in Business.


Benjamin Hallowell (1725–1799), comptroller of the customs in Boston, had married Mary, a sister of Nicholas and Thomas Boylston and a first cousin of JA’s mother. The Hallowells’ son Ward (1747–1828), who in 1770 took the name Ward Nicholas Boylston upon the promise of a large inheritance from his uncle, was to be closely associated with two generations of the Adams family. (Robert Hallowell Gardiner, Early Recollections, Hallowell, Me., 1936, p. 4–11; Sabin, Loyalists , under Benjamin Hallowell and W. N. Boylston respectively; Francis E. Blake, History of the Town of Princeton, Princeton, Mass., 1915, 1:278–280; 2:28.)


That is, they ride at full gallop. CFA reads “Tantivy Nick,” which was quite possibly what JA meant to write (the word being associated with high toryism; see OED ), but the punctuation in the MS does not warrant such a reading.


The Stamp Act Congress, held at New York in Oct. 1765, to which nine colonies sent delegates. Timothy Ruggles and the younger Otis were two of the three sent by Massachusetts, and Ruggles served as presiding officer. See Edmund S. and Helen M. Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis, Chapel Hill, 1953, ch. 7.