Diary of John Adams, volume 3

“Aerostatic Experiments” in Paris, 1783 facing page 289[unavailable]

French colored engraving of a balloon flight in 1783. John Quincy Adams described the current enthusiasm for aerial navigation in a letter from Auteuil to his friend Peter Jay Munro, 10 November 1784 (Museum of the City of New York): “Messieurs Roberts made their third experiment, the 19th of September, and with more success than any aerostatic travellers have had before. They went up from the Thuileries, amidst a concourse of I suppose 10,000 persons. At noon, and at forty minutes past six in the Evening they descended at Beuory in Artois fifty leagues from Paris. This is expeditious travelling, and I heartily wish they would bring balloons to such a perfection, as that I might go to N. York, Philadelphia, or Boston in five days time. M.M. Roberts have publish'd a whole Volume of Observations upon their Voyage, or Journey or whatever it may be called, but I judge from the abstracts I have seen of it that they have taken a few traveller's Licenses, and have given some little play to their Imaginations. . . . They have established somewhere in Paris, a machine which they call une tour aërostatique where for a small price, any curious person may mount as high as he pleases, and so ‘look down upon the pendent world.’ ”

From an original in the Adams Papers.