Diary of John Adams, volume 1

13 Fryday. JA


13 Fryday. Adams, John
13 Fryday.

A pleasant morning. Saw my classmates Gardner, and Wheeler. Wheeler dined, spent the afternoon, and drank Tea with me. Supped at Major Gardiners, and ingag’d to keep School at Bristol, provided Worcester People, at their insuing March meeting, should change this into a moving School, not otherwise.1 Major Greene this Evening fell into some conversation with me about the Divinity and Satisfaction of Jesus Christ.2 All the Argument he advanced was, “that a mere creature, or finite Being, could not make Satisfaction to infinite Justice, for any Crimes,” and that “these things are very misterious.”

In the margin: Thus mystery is made a convenient Cover for absurdity.


Prior to the formation of school districts, schoolmasters were obliged to keep school for stated periods in different parts of a town (township), so that the children of all those who supported schools by taxes would have equal access to them; this arrangement was called a “moving school” ( DAH , under School, 7District). Extract from the Worcester Town Records, 1 March 1756: “Voted that the School[s] be Kept in the same way and manner as they were the Last year and that John Chandler Junr. and Timo. Paine Esq. and Mr. Asa Moore be a Comitte for provid[ing] a master for the Center School” (Worcester Soc. of Antiquity, Colls., 4 [1882]:23).


See OED under Satisfaction, 3: “Theol. The atonement made by Christ for sin, according to the view that His sufferings and merits are accepted by the Divine justice as an equivalent for the penalty due for the sins of the world.” In recent published sermons Jonathan Mayhew had called in question the divinity of Christ; see 17 March, below.

14 Saturday. JA


14 Saturday. Adams, John
14 Saturday.

Good Weather. This afternoon took a Vomit of Tartar Emet. and Turbith mineral,1 that worked 7 Times, and wrecked me much.


Turpeth, turbith: “A cathartic drug prepared from the root of East Indian jalap, Ipomoea Turpethum”( OED ).

15 Sunday. JA


15 Sunday. Adams, John
15 Sunday.

Charming Weather. A.M. staid at home reading the Independent Whig.1 Very often Shepherds that are hired, to take care of their Masters sheep, go about their own Concern’s and leave the flock to the Care of their Dog. So Byshops, who are appointed to oversee the flock of Christ, take the Fees themslves, but leave the Drudgery to their Dogs, alias i.e. curates and understrappers.


[Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard,] The Independent Whig, originally a periodical publication but issued as a volume, London, 1721. There were numerous later enlarged editions, some bearing the subtitle “A Defence of Primitive Christianity.” Gordon and Trenchard attacked the high-church party in England and became still more influential as anticlerical and whig propagandists through their Cato’s Letters (London, 1724; 4 vols.), which was a popular book in America. JA owned several of their works. (Article on Gordon in DNB ; BM, Catalogue ; Josiah Quincy, Josiah Quincy, Jr. , p. 289; Catalogue of JA’s Library , p. 106, 247.)

16 Monday. JA


16 Monday. Adams, John
16 Monday.

A most beautiful morning. We have the most moderate Winter that ever was known in this country. For a long time together we have had serene and temperate Weather and all the Roads perfectly settled and smooth like Summer.—The Church of Rome has made it an Article of Faith that no man can be saved out of their Church, and all other religious Sects approach to this dreadfull opinion in proportion to their Ignorance, and the Influence of ignorant or wicked Priests. Still reading the Independent Whigg. Oh! that I could wear out of my mind every mean and base affectation, conquer my natural Pride and Self Conceit, expect no more defference from my fellows than I deserve, acquire that meekness, and humility, which are the sure marks and Characters 8of a great and generous Soul, and subdue every unworthy Passion and treat all men as I wish to be treated by all. How happy should I then be, in the favour and good will of all honest men, and the sure prospect of a happy immortality!