Sorry Ashton Kutcher, John Quincy Adams' tweets cooler
Tweeting the diary entries of John Quincy Adams from 200 years ago, when he journeyed to Russia as a US minister.
The following is not a full transcript; for full story, listen to audio.
The online message service Twitter is gaining in popularity, but it's also been belittled. Writing in 140 characters or less -- that could be the ultimate reflection of our short attention spans. Makes one pine for the good old days when people really knew how to write.
Well, in 1809 John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary, "Up great parts of the night, wife and child sick, saw nothing, calm day, read Mrs. Grant's letters."
Adams kept the diary when he journeyed to Russia as a US minister, and the Massachusetts Historical Society has begun Tweeting the one-line entries from this diary.
Jeremy Dibbell is the assistant reference librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society. On "Here and Now," he said it was a simple observation from a high school student that got it all started.
"It was a student on a tour here in the spring," said Dibbell. "At some point we were showing him the line-a-day diary, the one where he just writes one line per day, and the student said, it's like he's using Twitter. And we said, well it's true -- it kind of is like he's using Twitter. When we realized that ... the 5th of August is the bicentennial of his voyage to Russia, we figured the opportunity was too good to pass up."
Adam's diary is full of fascinating entries, said Dibbell, "He writes a lot. He writes what he's reading, who's sick; a couple times parts of the ship catches on fire, so he writes about those; what they're seeing, which ships they're seeing; they see a whale, they play cards in the evenings..."
A sample of Adams' tweets:
"I received this morning from the Secretary of State, a letter, enclosing the credential to the Emperor of Russia ..."
"Sailed in Ship Horace, Benjamin Beckford, from Charlestown to St. Petersburg."
"Read Plutarch's 'Life of Romulus.'"
Dibbell says the writings reflect Adams' wide range of knowledge, "He was interested in everything -- from literature to science, to ... longitude-latitude observations and weather. He was, I think, one of our most versatile presidents in terms of the knowledge that he had of just such a huge range of topics."
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