Tuesday, 18 August 2009

‘Fair wind and thick fogs’: John Quincy Adams on Twitter

by Kathryn Hadley

Almost exactly 200 years ago, on August 5th 1809, John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) set sail from Boston to St. Petersburg. President James Madison had appointed him minister plenipotentiary to Russia on June 27th and, sailing first to Denmark, Adams eventually arrived in Russia in October. From the day of his departure, he began to summarise each day of his three-month voyage in a line-a-day diary. 200 years on, since August 5th, the Massachusetts Historical Society has published John Quincy Adams’ daily diary entries on twitter.

200 years ago today, Adams reported a ‘fair wind and thick fogs’. On August 11th, his dairy entry read:

‘up great part of the Night. wife and child sick. Lat: 43-39. Saw nothing. Calm
day. Read Mrs Grant's Letters’.

The Adams Family Papers is the most important manuscript collection owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society. The collection dates from 1639 to 1889 and includes correspondence, diaries, literary manuscripts, speeches, legal and business papers, a significant part of which is related to John Quincy Adams. Resources notably include digitised images from Adams’ diary which are available on the website of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In addition to his line-a-day diary about his voyage to Russia, John Quincy Adams had begun to keep a long diary in 1779, aged twelve, which he continued to write until shortly before his death in 1848. The diary includes 51 volumes and is 14,000 pages long.

Adams served as a diplomat to Russia until 1815. He was thereafter commissioned envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain until 1817. He became Secretary of State under President Monroe in September 1817 and on March 4th, 1825, he was inaugurated as the sixth president of the United States.

To follow Adams’ journey to Russia on twitter visit, http://twitter.com/JQAdams_MHS
A timeline providing an overview of the main events of Adams’ life and featuring his relevant diary entries is available on the website of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
A short biography is also available on the website of the White House. http://www.whitehouse.gov/

For further information of John Quincy Adams’ presidency and his contribution to American politics, read our article John Quincy Adams

Engraving of John Quincy Adams by Charles Kennedy Burt, 1870, from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


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