Diary of John Adams, volume 2

May 1st. 1771. Wednesday. JA


May 1st. 1771. Wednesday. Adams, John
May 1st. 1771. Wednesday.

Saturday I rode from Martins in Northborough to Boston on horse back, and from thence to Braintree in a Chaise, and when I arrived at my little Retreat, I was quite overcome with Fatigue. Next Morning felt better, and arose early and walked, up Pens Hill and then round, by the Meadow, home.

After Meeting in the Afternoon Mr. Tudor and I rambled up the western Common, and took a View of a Place which I have never seen since my Removal to Boston. I felt a Joy, I enjoyed a Pleasure, in revisiting my old Haunts, and recollecting my old Meditations among the Rocks and Trees, which was very intense indeed. The rushing Torrent, the purling Stream, the gurgling Rivulet, the dark Thickett, the rugged Ledges and Precipices, are all old Acquaintances of mine. The 10young Trees, Walnutts and Oaks which were pruned, and trimmed by me, are grown remarkably. Nay the Pines have grown the better for lopping.

This Evening at the Bar Meeting, I asked and obtained the unanimous Consent of the Bar to take Mr. Elisha Thayer of Braintree Son of Captn. Ebenr. Thayer Jur. as a Clerk.1 How few Years are gone since this Gentleman was pleased to call me a petty Lawyer at Majr. Crosbys Court. Now he is soliciting me to take his Son, and complementing &c. me, with being the first Lawyer in the Province, as he did, in express Words, tho it was but a Compliment, and if sincere in him was not true, but a gross Mistake, nay what is more remarkable still complimenting me with his Seat in the House of Representatives, as he did by assuring me in Words, that if I had an Inclination to come from Braintree, he would not stand in my Way.—Such are the Mistakes we are apt to make in the Characters of Men, and in our Conjectures of their future Fortune. This however is a wretched Tryumph, a poor Victory, a small Antagonist to defeat—And I have very few of this Kind of Conquests to boast of. The Governor tells of a vast No. of these Changes in Sentiment concerning him—and will be able to tell of many more.


Young Thayer stayed in JA's office less than two years, for in Feb. 1773 the members of the Suffolk bar voted that “the remaining part of Mr. Thayer's three years [with JA] be dispensed with under the peculiar circumstances of his case, but not to be drawn into precedent” and not to prejudice the bar's recommendation of Thayer to practice after another year (“Suffolk Bar Book,” MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 19 [1881–1882]:151). The “peculiar circumstances” no doubt related to Thayer's health; he died early in 1774 (JA to Ebenezer Thayer, 25 April 1774, Tr in CFA's hand, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 114).

May 2. 1771. JA


May 2. 1771. Adams, John
May 2. 1771.

The Tryumphs, and Exultations of Ezekl. Goldthwait and his pert Pupil Price, at the Election of a Register of Deeds, are excessive.1 They Crow like dunghill Cocks. They are rude and disgusting. Goldthwait says he would try the Chance again for 20 dollars, and he would get it by a Majority of 100 Votes even in this Town. Nay more he says, if he would be Representative and would set up he would be chose Rep. before Adams.—Adams the Lawyer dont succeed in the Interest he makes for People, he is not successfull.—N.B. very true!

Price says to me, if you was to go and make Interest, for me to be Clerk in the Room of Cook, I should get it no doubt.

These are the Insults that I have exposed myself to, by a very small and feeble Exertion for S. Adams to be Register of Deeds. Thus are 11the Friends of the People after such dangerous Efforts, and such successfull ones too left in the Lurch even by the People themselves. I have acted my sentiments, with the Utmost Frankness, at Hazard of all, and the certain Loss of ten times more than it is in the Power of the People to give me, for the sake of the People, and now I reap nothing but Insult, Ridicule and Contempt for it, even from many of the People themselves. However, I have not hitherto regarded Consequences to myself. I have very chearfully sacrificed my Interest, and my Health and Ease and Pleasure in the service of the People. I have stood by their friends longer than they would stand by them. I have stood by the People much longer than they would stand by themselves. But, I have learn'd Wisdom by Experience. I shall certainly become more retired, and cautious. I shall certainly mind my own Farm, and my own Office.


In April Samuel Adams competed with Goldthwait for the office of register of deeds for Suffolk co. Goldthwait, who had tory leanings, had been elected “unanimously” for several successive terms and had won the recent election by 1123 votes to 467 (MHS, Procs. , 2d ser., 14 [1900–1901]:47).