Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2



John Quincy Adams' Admittatur to Harvard, 17 March 1786 4[unavailable]

In the late eighteenth century no one was admitted to Harvard unless he could “translate the Greek and Latin Authors in common use, such as Tully, Virgil, The New-Testament, Xenophone &c,” understood grammar, wrote correct Latin, and had “a good moral Character.” After an oral and written examination, successful candidates were expected to pay three pounds to the college steward “towards defraying their College Charges,” and to give bond of two hundred ounces of silver for their quarterly college costs (“College Laws of 1655, 1692, and 1767 and College Customs 1734/5,” Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 31 [1935]: 347). Sections from the college laws relating to admission policy are printed on the third page of the four-page document illustrated here. On the second page, otherwise blank, the college steward, Caleb Gannett, attested that the candidate, Adams, had completed the admission procedure. The admittatur was then taken to President Joseph Willard for his signature. Adams seems to have been spared the additional task, assigned candidates of the previous generation, of copying out all the college laws by hand, its completion also certified by the college president in writing.

From the original in the Adams Papers.