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Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams, 1862: Finding Aid

Published in April 2020

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 92
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams
  • Dates: 1862
  • Size: 0.15 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume of 90 leaves
  • Creator: John Adams (Frigate)
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: U.S.S. John Adams was a United States Navy frigate. The Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams spans from May 27 to August 23, 1862. The journal was kept by an unnamed Naval Academy midshipman during a practice cruise aboard U.S.S. John Adams, under the command of Stephen B. Luce and Edward Simpson.

History of U.S.S. John Adams (Frigate)

The first U.S.S. John Adams was built for the United States by the people of Charleston, South Carolina, under contract to Paul Prichard and launched on June 5, 1799. Under the command of Captain George Cross, she sailed that October for French Guiana to operate against French privateers based there. With the British capture of Surinam reducing the threat of French privateers, John Adams sailed to Guadeloupe to join her squadron.

During the Quasi-War with France, she operated in the West Indies. From January through June 1800, she captured the brigs Dolphin, Hannibal, and Atlantic; the French privateer schooner La Jason; schooners Dispatch, William, and Decade; and recaptured the American brig Olive. In December, she escorted a convoy to the United States, after which she was placed in ordinary in Charleston in January 1801. In June, she sailed to Washington, where she was laid up.

After peace with France, the Navy turned its focus to Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean. Under the command of Captain John Rodgers, John Adams sailed from Hampton Roads on October 22, 1802 to join Commodore Richard V. Morris' squadron. She operated with Morris's squadron from January 5 until May 3, 1803, when she detached to cruise off Tripoli, attacking Tripolitan forts and gunboats, and later capturing the Tripolitan cruiser Meshouda. Reinforced by New York, Enterprise, and later Adams, she twice defeated enemy flotillas. By late June, Tripoli was weakened sufficiently to allow the squadron to turn its attention to Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco. In the fall, John Adams returned home with New York.

On August 7, 1804, John Adams, now under Captain Isaac Chauncey, returned to the Mediterranean for Commodore Preble's assault on Tripoli, bring stores and engaging in multiple waves of bombardment. After their fifth attack against Tripoli on September 3, John Adams and the other ships of the squadron were forced by bad weather to retire to Syracuse. Three months later she sailed for New York with Commodore Preble, arriving on February 26, 1805. After a third Mediterranean cruise from May to November, she was laid up in ordinary.

The outbreak of the War of 1812 found her undergoing repairs at Boston, and later, New York. The British blockade and a shortage of manpower kept her laid-up until early 1814. She finally sailed under a flag of truce, carrying peace commissioners Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell to Europe in April. She returned to the United States on September 5, bringing dispatches from the American commissioners at Ghent.

In the autumn of 1815, John Adams returned to the Mediterranean to assist in maintaining peace in the area after squadrons under Commodores Decatur and Bainbridge had forced the Barbary States to honor their treaty commitments. Early in 1816 she returned home with dispatches.

For the next few years John Adams was employed fighting piracy in the West Indies. On December 22, 1817 she captured Amelia Island, off the east coast of Florida, the base from which Commodore Louis-Michel Aury's corsairs operated.

On June 7, 1819, John Adams, in company with the schooner Nonsuch, sailed as flagship of Oliver Hazard Perry on a mission to establish friendly relations with the new government of Venezuela. On August 11, the government of Venezuela granted all of the demands of the United States but, during the passage down the river, Perry was stricken with yellow fever and died before he returned to his flagship. Commodore Charles Morris succeeded Perry, and John Adams accompanied his flagship Constellation to the Plata River to continue the negotiations with the new Latin American republics. After visiting Montevideo and Buenos Aires, both ships returned to Hampton Roads on April 24, 1820.

John Adams joined Commodore James Biddle's newly created West India Squadron in 1822 in continued efforts to suppress piracy. Yellow fever outbreaks necessitated reinforcements, which arrived on March 3, 1823. The Squadron's new commanding officer, Commodore David Porter, selected John Adams as his flagship, and she would retain that role under his successor, Commodore Lewis Warrington, until 1826. John Adams continued to operate sporadically in the West Indies against pirates until 1829, when she was laid up and rebuilt at the Gosport Navy Yard.

Once recommissioned, she joined the Mediterranean Squadron in 1831, transporting David Porter to Constantinople for his role as Minister to the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, John Adams convoyed ships in the Mediterranean and in 1833 visited Liberia, which was being colonized with African Americans at the time.

After repairs in the United States, she sailed from Hampton Roads in May 1838 on a cruise around the world accompanied by Columbia. Both ships arrived in Rio de Janeiro on July 10 but departed separately, John Adams sailing July 25. She stopped at Zanzibar en route to Bombay, where she rejoined Columbia before continuing to Goa and Colombo, Ceylon. After learning of an attack on the American ship Eclipse in Sumatra, the two vessels proceeded to the scene of the incident, bombarding the forts at Quallah Battoo and landing men at Meukek in a series of punitive actions referred to as the Second Sumatran Expedition. Before returning to Rio de Janeiro on April 23, 1840, the squadron called at Singapore, Macao, Honolulu, Valparaiso, and Cape Horn.

John Adams arrived in Boston in June 1840, and was laid up until 1842. After duty on the Brazil Station, she went into ordinary where she remained until recommissioned at the beginning of the Mexican War. She was anchored off the bar at Santiago on May 8, 1846 during the Battle of Palo Alto and she maintained a blockading station off the east coast of Mexico for the remainder of the war.

John Adams returned to Boston in September 1848 and received extensive repairs before joining the Africa station for action with the English Navy against the slave trade, returning home in July 1853. Thereafter, John Adams operated primarily in the Pacific and the Far East until after the outbreak of the Civil War. She sailed for home on July 6, 1861 and reached New York on January 11, 1862.

John Adams was then sent to Newport, Rhode Island, act as training ship for midshipmen. In the summer of 1863 she joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and took station off Morris Island inside Charleston Bar, where she served as flagship of the inner blockade until she sailed into the harbor after the evacuation of Charleston in February 1865. Late that summer she sailed to Boston where she decommissioned in September and was sold on October 5, 1867.

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Description of Contents

The Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams, comprising 0.15 linear feet of documentation in a single volume of 90 leaves, spans from May 27 to August 23, 1862. The journal was kept by an unnamed Naval Academy midshipman during a practice cruise aboard U.S.S. John Adams, under the command of Stephen B. Luce and Edward Simpson.

The journal notes the sailing conditions, ship's location, provisions, ship's visitors, and personnel issues.

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The Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams comprises a single volume.

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Access and Use


Patron use restricted to microfilm.

Copyright and Permission

The Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Found in Librarian's office. Accessioned on August 14, 1942. Accession No. 95920.

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Related Materials

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

This collection also available on microfilm.

Related Archival Material

Additional documentation from U.S.S. John Adams in this repository includes the Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. John Adams and the U.S.S. Congress, 1818-1819, MS 73; Journal kept on board the U.S. Ship John Adams, 1843-1845, MS 90; and several volumes in the Thomas W. and Robert H. Wyman Naval Papers, 1817-1855, MS 5.

Official logbooks of U.S.S. John Adams may be available in Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, ca. 1801 - 1940, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007 at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams, MS 92

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

"John Adams I (Frigate)." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2015,

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in April 2020.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • John Adams (Frigate)
  • Naval education -- United States
  • Training-ships -- United States
  • United States Naval Academy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises
  • United States Naval Academy -- School ships
  • United States. Navy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources

Genre Terms

  • Journals (accounts)
  • Manuscripts
  • Ships' logs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship John Adams, 1862

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