John Quincy Adams the Tweets from beyond the grave

Posted: August 8, 2009 by datechguy in oddities, tech

I’m not much of a twitter person (I don’t even have a facebook account) but I am very into John Quincy Adams and anything that gives more attention to one of the most remarkable statesmen to ever serve America is ok with me.

The micro-blogging site Twitter wasn’t around in John Quincy Adams’ day, but a recent visitor to the MHS suggested he might have found it a very natural addition to his routine. JQA was a prolific diarist, filling fifty-one volumes over sixty-nine years (amounting to nearly 15,000 pages) – and not only did he keep a diary, he often kept multiple diaries simultaneously (there are three different entries for the day he was inaugurated as president, for example: a long entry, a draft entry, and a line-a-day entry).

What started as interesting note is now a project:

when we realized that JQA begins a long series of line-a-day entries on 5 August 1809 as he departs on his voyage to Russia (where he would serve as the first American ambassador), we decided some opportunities are just too good to pass up.

So, beginning on 5 August 2009, we’ll be posting JQA’s line-a-day diary entries on Twitter, one per day exactly 200 years later. You can check out the project at, and if you use Twitter too we hope you’ll follow along and receive the daily updates. We’ll be posting JQA’s exact words (his entries really do work perfectly as 140-character tweets), and where possible we will augment the posts with maps showing his location (thank him for providing regular latitude and longitude readings), links to longer diary entries, and other information. His short entries are surprisingly rich, full of wonderful details about his reading, meals, weather, and shipboard activities.

“His” twitter page is here.

Remembering these are the days before the common use of steam let alone electricity so this would be heady stuff for people.

One interesting Adams fact. In addition to being President, Sec of State and a Congressman AFTER being president Adams was nominated for the Supreme Court BEFORE all of that and voted in unanimously by the Senate but turned it down because he didn’t consider himself qualified enough.

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