Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 17th.

Tuesday. 19th.

Monday. 18th. CFA Monday. 18th. CFA
Monday. 18th.

Mild though cloudy. I went to the Office and received a letter from my father at last. It is a sort of review of the state of things at the last of the Congress. I think he himself is rather depressed, he speaks of his own and the health of the family as bad, and intimates not the most agreeable things as to the state of his property.1

My time was taken up in writing, attending to applicants for the House in Tremont Street and looking over the Intelligencer. Mr. Webster’s Speech2 is too long to read at once. I went to the Athenaeum to pick up scattering opinions upon my father’s Report. Walsh as usual praises it. The Boston papers are calm as death.3 Masonry is powerful, who can doubt it.

Isaac P. Davis came up to see me. We talked and I read to him parts 51of my father’s letter. They are about to print the Report for circulation. He came to inquire as to the correctness of it as reported by the Intelligencer, for which I told him, I thought I could vouch, such reports being generally corrected by himself.

Walk and home to dinner—Miss Lydia Phillips spending the day. Afternoon, read de Retz whose Accounts are somewhat sickening of the intrigue and nightly consultations to regulate the hypocrisy of the day. Evening at home. Visitors to see Miss Elizabeth Phillips. Mr. Charles Bartlett of Charlestown and Miss Elizabeth Parks. Cousins of my Wife. William G. Brooks also came in soon afterwards.4 Not late to bed.


JQA to CFA, 13 March (Adams Papers). The family’s transfer from Washington to Quincy, usually effected upon the adjournment of Congress, was to be delayed for a month because of the weather, LCA’s health, and the need for JQA to make arrangements about his debts. See also, above, entry for 25 Feb., note.


On Nullification, delivered 16 Feb. in the Senate.


Robert Walsh, editor of the National Gazette in Philadelphia, as well as of the American Quarterly Review, was one of JQA’s firmest journalistic supporters (see vol. 4:175, 214–215). When CFA came to prepare the Report for pamphlet publication he included the comments from the Gazette of 13 March on the inside front cover: “The Report of ... Mr. Adams ... is the product of his athletic and capacious mind.... The performance is altogether one of extraordinary strength and momentum; equal in masculine sense and argument, sustained impetus, intrepid candor, and importance of general maxims and conclusions, to any one of the antecedent state papers from the same pen.... Its length is as great as that of Mr. Calhoun’s dissertation; but in every other respect it forms a contrast like that between true dialectics and the most artificial sophistry, wisdom and error, nutritive aliment and vitiating drug. Mr. Adams ... exhibits, with original traits, all the spuriousness and evil tendencies of the claim of nullification.... That part ... in which the relations between the slave-holding and non-slave-holding States, and the conduct and tone of the South toward the North, are treated, is particularly racy and impressive. In the art of exploding absurdities, Mr. Adams is, indeed, consummate.”

CFA is not altogether accurate in his comment on Boston newspapers. On the day of the present entry the Columbian Centinel, in printing lengthy excerpts from the Report (p. 1, cols. 3–7), called it “one of the most able documents that has been published during the whole session of Congress” (p. 2, col. 5).


The mothers of ABA, Charles Bartlett, and Elizabeth Parks were sisters; the fathers of ABA and William G. Brooks were brothers; see vol. 3:70, 113, 132, 324.