Biography of John Adams

Farewell to Politics

"the Air of the Town of Boston which was not favourable to me who had been born and passed allmost all my life in the Country."

John Adams in his Journal on why he was leaving Boston, 1771

In June 1770, Adams was elected to the General Court, the lower house of the Massachusetts legislature. Among the first duties Adams attended to was to serve on a committee charged with stating the Assembly's objections to doing business in Cambridge instead of its home of Boston. The petition was rejected by the Lieutenant Governor. The General Court then recessed for the spring circuit. Adams' law business increased little, however, the quality of his clients improved. John once again began to take up his diary, a habit which he dropped during the hectic Boston Massacre trial. It was another sign that his law business was not as busy as he hoped.

The General Court reconvened in July, the first order of business was the request to move to Boston. It was refused. The same events happened again in September. Adams was on the committee to draft both the request and the replies to Lt. Governor Hutchinson's answers. The General Court realized that they had no choice but to accept Hutchinson's decision and get down to business.

In the earlier months of 1771, John complained of ill health. The preceding year was a busy and stressful time for John. In 1770 John served in the General Court, served as clerk of the Suffolk County Bar Association, continued his growing law practice and of course participated in the Boston Massacre trial. In February, John went through a night of unexplained pain, "great Anxiety and distress...God grant, I may never see such another Night." At this time John was also worried over Abigail's health.

In April, with Abigail's blessing, John uprooted the family and moved out of Boston and back to Braintree. With his return to his native land, John soon regained his strength. John wrote in his diary, "I...shall divide my time...between law and husbandry. Farewell politicks."

John basically became one of the first suburban commuters in US history, traveling to Boston in the morning and returning to Braintree in the evening. John spent his free time in Braintree with his family in his crowded house and taking time to walk up Penn's Hill in the morning. He also took to time to inspect the Common Lands of the town, the lands presented John with "the rushing torrent, the purling stream, the gurgling rivulet, the dark thicket," the beloved memories of his childhood. John's self esteem was raised by the new respect shown to him by the other residents of town. He was Braintree's local boy who made good in Boston. John showed signs of a renewed constitution.

John's pledge of avowing politics was soon broken. His cousin Sam Adams was running for the office of Registrar of Deeds for Suffolk County. John campaigned for Sam Adams in the town of Braintree. Sam Adams was easily defeated and John took the loss badly. John felt that both he and Sam Adams deserved more gratitude from the voters. John noted about the citizen's reaction to his campaigning in his diary, "nothing but insult, ridicule, and contempt for it." For a man who had chosen a career in politics and was quick to criticized others, Adams possessed a very thin skin.

John realized that Sam Adams' loss was just one of the signs that the patriot cause was beginning to wan. The Crown's men took advantaged of this lull to strengthen their hold on the colony. John met many of his former allies that were swayed back to the Governor's side along with many of the citizens supporting Hutchinson's promotion to Governor. All these events helped lead Adams into a state of depression. Adams complained of feeling ill and had trouble reading, thinking or writing various writs.

At the time, it was fashionable for persons to travel to Stafford, Connecticut to spend several days taking in the mineral waters. It was said that the mineral waters possessed medicinal qualities. John and Abigail decided that John should partake of the mineral waters to restore his health. John was away from his farm for several weeks and came back from his trip with his health restored, again. However, it was not the waters that restored his health, it was the lively discussion John partook with everyone he met along his way. John even got a chance to visit his old friends in Worcester, while he secured his job as a teacher.

In the middle of 1772, Abigail gave birth their third child, Thomas Bolyston. In September, John decided to move his family back to the town of Boston. For a second time, John vowed to avoid, "politics, political clubs, town meetings, General Court, etc., etc., etc." Soon, John broke that pledge for a second time.