Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"


Louisa Adams was born in 1773 in Acton, Massachusetts, where her father was a Congregationalist minister. She had five younger brothers and sisters.2  Little else is known about her life until the year 1800 when she was married to John Park and expecting their first child. Her husband was a physician in the United States Navy. She wrote letters to him from January through June of 1800, while he was on his first Navy cruise. During his second cruise, from November 1800 to July 1801, she kept, at his request, a diary which she planned to give to him when he returned from sea. In the diary and letters she confided her fears about childbirth, her frustrations with her extended family, her loneliness for her husband, and her grief at the death of their son, Warren, shortly after his first birthday. She also discussed the politics of the day, her reading, happenings in local churches, and news of their friends.

Throughout her letters and her diary, Louisa expressed her loneliness and her concern for her husband's safety. She anxiously waited for his letters and watched the newspaper for mentions of his ship, the U. S. S. Warren.3  During the winters of 1800 and 1801, the U. S. Navy's small fleet was in the Caribbean fighting an intentional, but undeclared, naval war with France.

The United States was in a difficult position in the Franco-British War. America needed income from trade with France and with England. An alliance with either nation would make trade with the other impossible. Furthermore, if America allied itself with either of those two superpowers, it risked being "protected" into a satellite status if its ally won, and crushing

2. Readex Microfilm Collection, Guide and Index to Women's Diaries, Segment I: New England (New Canaan, Conn.: Readex Microprint Corporation, 1984), 29-30.
3. Louisa Adams Park, Diary, 1-19-01;2-13-01 through 2-21 01; additional references throughout the text.
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