On July 11, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador to Russia in St. Petersburg, has his birthday but he is not celebrating. "I am forty-five years old,"Adams writes, "Two-thirds of a long life are past, and I have done nothing to distinguish it by usefulness to, my country or to mankind." Adams was being overly modest but he was to be proved right in that the first part of his life does pale in comparison to what he would accomplish after 1812, including becoming a Senator, Secretary of State, President, and Congressman. Part of Adams' entry for July 11 1812 is reproduced below.
11th I am forty-five years old. Two-thirds of a long life are past, and I have done nothing to distinguish it by usefulness to, my country or to mankind. I have always lived with, I hope, a suitable sense of my duties in society, and with a sincere desire to perform them. But passions, indolence, weakness, and infirmity have sometimes made me swerve from my better knowledge of right and almost constantly paralyzed my efforts of good. I have no heavy charge upon my conscience, for which I bless my Maker, as well as for all the enjoyments that He has liberally bestowed upon me. I pray for his gracious kindness in future. But it is time to cease forming fruitless resolutions.
The Chevalier Brancia paid me a visit, and told me that Count Lauriston and the other allied Ministers had received passports last evening, accompanied with notes from Count Soltykoff, observing that as the military operations embraced the whole of the western frontiers of the empire, the Emperor had judged it suitable that they should embark and depart by sea, for which purpose a public ship would be provided for them to land them at such port as they should fix upon; and that they should be furnished with accommodations at the palace of Oranienbaum, from whence they might embark. Brancia was deeply exasperated at this treatment, and said he had written to Count Soltykoff expressing his surprise at it, and demanding a guarantee from the Emperor that he shall not be taken on his passage by the English, with whom his sovereign is at war. The Ambassador told me he had done the same thing. I asked him what they had done with regard to Rayneval. He said that Count Soltykoff had written him that, his Majesty the Emperor having disapproved his having given a courier's passport to Mr. Rayneval, he did not know what to say respecting him. They will probably not in fact be molested by any English ship of war, but the chances are two to one that they will meet some, and, upon English maritime principles, their protection will depend altogether upon the English captains' discretion and forbearance.