Adams Papers

12 Fryday.
[from the Diary of John Adams]

12 Fryday.

Clowdy. Laid a pair of Gloves with Mrs. Willard that she would not see me chew tobacco this month.1

1We do not know who won this wager. We do know something about JA’s use of tobacco. In 1805 his friend Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse of the Harvard Medical School published a tract entitled Cautions to Young Persons concerning Health in a Public Lecture...; containing the General Doctrine of Chronic Diseases; Shewing the Evil Tendency of the Use of Tobacco upon Young Persons; More Especially the Pernicious Effects of Smoking Cigarrs. The lecture had been delivered to Harvard undergraduates, and in it Waterhouse declared that in his twenty-three years at Harvard he had never observed “so many palid faces, and so many marks of declining health; nor ever knew so many hectical habits and consumptive affections” among the students as now (p. 27). These he attributed in large measure to the increasing use of tobacco. A copy sent by the author to JA evoked several letters of reminiscence, in which among other things JA said he had “learned the Use of [tobacco] upon Ponds of Ice, when Skaiting with Boys at Eight Years of Age,” and though he had given it up at certain periods, including his sojourns abroad, he had, to his regret, been a frequent user of tobacco in one form or another for sixty years (JA to Waterhouse, 19 and 13 Feb. 1805, MHi:Adams-Waterhouse Coll.).

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