J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Birth in Braintree 250 Years Ago

On this date 250 years ago, Abigail Adams gave birth to her second child and first son.

No letters or diary entries survive from the Adams household that month. Decades later, Abigail’s husband John mentioned the event in his autobiography:
The Year before this, i.e. in 1767 My Son John Quincy Adams was born on the             day of August, at Braintree, and at the request of his Grandmother [Eizabeth] Smith christened by the Name of her Father John Quincy on the day of the Death of his Great Grandfather, John Quincy of Mount Wollaston.
Later still, John Quincy Adams himself went into his father’s papers, wrote “eleventh” in the space for the date and corrected “August” to “July.” Always the careful one.

J. Q. Adams wrote to a friend about his great grandfather:
He was dying when I was baptized; and his daughter, my grandmother, present at my birth, requested that I might receive his name. The fact, recorded by my father at the time, has connected with that portion of my name a charm of mingled sensibility and devotion. It was filial tenderness that gave the name. It was the name of one passing from earth to immortality. These have been among the strongest links of my attachment to the name of Quincy, and have been to me, through life, a perpetual admonition to do nothing unworthy of it.
John Quincy (1689-1767) died on 13 July, two days after the birth of his great-grandson. He had represented Braintree in the Massachusetts General Court for well over twenty years, in many of those terms serving as speaker. When the north precinct of Braintree became a separate town in 1792, it took the name of Quincy in his honor.

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