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Gilbert Stuart's Portrait of John AdamsFifth of March Oration by Joseph Warren

John Adams meets Joseph Warren

Do you know how patriots John Adams and Joseph Warren became acquainted?

It was Dr. Joseph Warren who inoculated the young attorney, John Adams, in 1764! Adams described his innoculation in a letter to his soon to be wife, Abigail, as follows:

“We arrived at Captn. Cunninghams, about Twelve O’Clock and sent our Compliments to Dr. Perkins. The Courrier returned with Answer that the Dr. was determined to inoculate no more without a Preparation preevious to Inoculation. That We should have written to him and have received Directions from him, and Medicine, before We came into Town. I was surprized and chagrined. I wrote, instantly, a Letter to him, and informed him we had been under a Preparation of his prescribing, and that I presumed Dr. Tufts had informed him, that We depended on him, in Preference to any other Gentleman. The Dr. came, immediately with Dr. Warren , in a Chaise — And after an Apology, for his not Recollecting-(I am obliged to break off my Narration, in order to swallow a Porringer of Hasty Pudding and Milk. I have done my Dinner) — for not recollecting what Dr. Tufts had told him, Dr. Perkins demanded my left Arm and Dr. Warren my Brothers. They took their Launcetts and with their Points divided the skin for about a Quarter of an Inch and just suffering the Blood to appear, buried a Thread about (half) a Quarter of an Inch long in the Channell….”

That interaction began a friendship which would last until Warren’s death at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill.


Primary Source: Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society. Original manuscript at Massachusetts Historical Society.