Adams Papers

Novr. 6th. Thurdsday.
[from the Diary of John Adams]

Novr. 6th. Thurdsday.

A fine Morn. Oated at Martins where we saw 5 Boxes of Dollars containing as we were told about 18,000 of them, going in an Horse Cart from Salem Custom House to Boston, in Order to be shipp’d for England. A Guard of Armed Men, with swords, Hangers, Pistols and Musquets, attended it. We dined at Dr. Tufts’s, in Medford.

There I first heard that the old Custom and Priviledge of Electing orators, Thesis Collectors, &c. by the Class, has been lately taken away, and that this Invasion of their Priviledges, contributed more than the Butter towards the late Spirit of Insurrection there.1

Drank Tea at Mrs. Kneelands. Got Home before 8 o Clock.

1The Harvard “Butter Rebellion" of 1766, a classic incident of its kind, has been graphically described by Samuel Eliot Morison in Three Centuries of Harvard, Cambridge, 1936, p. 117–118; see also Quincy, History of Harvard Univ. description begins Josiah Quincy, The History of Harvard University, 2d. edn., Boston, 1860; 2 vols. description ends , 2:99–100. A ruling of 1765 required students to take all their commons at the College, but in the fall of the following year a revolt broke out over the imported Irish butter served by the steward after repeated and well-justified complaints that it was “bad and Unwholesome.” The affair dragged on for weeks, proceeding through all the usual stages to an ultimate compromise. In the Adams Papers, though how it got there is unknown, is a copy of a MS memorial addressed by the undergraduates to the Overseers denying that they had entered “into Combination contrary to the Laws and Disrespectfull to the Government of the Colledge.” This paper is unsigned and undated but has been filed at the end of the year 1766.

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