7/3/1814: V:30. At several Churches. Visit from the Intendant. Evening walk with Russell. Saw a Balloon rise and fall.
— John Quincy Adams (@JQAdams_MHS) July 3, 2014
I find the mention of the balloon interesting. How many of us would bother to comment on this in our diaries today? But in JQA’s day, this was probably akin to what a Space Shuttle or other rocket launch is for us.
Ballooning had been around for about 30 years in 1814, so it wasn’t entirely new, but it wasn’t an everyday event. I think hot air balloons (in Adams’ case, it may have been filled with gas) are still novel enough that we stop & point them out when we see them (at least I do) but they’re probably not noteworthy enough to be one of the main things we mark down about our day.