Adams Papers

1777. Feby. 9. Sunday.

1777. Feby. 9. Sunday.

Heard Mr. Allison. In the Evening walked to Fells Point, the Place where the Ships lie, a kind of Peninsula which runs out, into the Bason which lies before Baltimore Town. This Bason 30 Years ago was deep enough for large Tobacco ships, but since then has fill’d up, ten feet. Between the Town and the Point, We pass a Bridge over a little Brook which is the only Stream which runs into the Bason, and the only flux of Water which is to clear away the Dirt which flows into the Bason from the foul streets of the Town and the neighbouring Hills and Fields. There is a breast Work thrown up upon the Point, with a Number of Embrasures for Cannon facing the Entrance into the Harbour. The Virginia Frigate Capt. Nickolson, lies off in the Stream. There is a Number of Houses upon this Point. You have a fine View of the Town of Baltimore from this Point.

On my Return, I stopped and drank Tea at Captn. Smiths, a Gentleman of the new Assembly.1

1William Smith; he was to be elected to Congress on 15 Feb. (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 2:xlix–l; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1949, Washington, 1950. description ends ; entry of 23 Feb., below).

On the following day JA resigned his seat, which he had never been able to occupy, as chief justice of Massachusetts, thus ending a dilemma that had made him uncomfortable for many months. On 28 Oct. 1775 he was notified that the Council had chosen him “to be first or Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature” (Perez Morton to JA, 28 Oct. 1775, Adams Papers). Difficulties in filling up the high court proved insuperable for some time, and there was also much criticism in Congress during 1776 of plural officeholding, which JA found embarrassing. See his Autobiography, where he discusses the matter at length (Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 3:25–28). His letter of resignation was enclosed in one to John Avery, 10 Feb. 1777 (LbC, Adams Papers; enclosure printed in Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 3: 25, note).

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