Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Tuesday 22d.

Thursday. 24th.

Wednesday 23d. CFA Wednesday 23d. CFA
Wednesday 23d.

Very heavy rain with occasional gusts of wind throughout the day, which prevented my going out until evening. But as I thought it scarcely advisable to waste so much time, I finished the Bank Report, and then read the whole of the original debate upon the first charter of the United States Bank. This is a very interesting exposition of the views originally entertained of this much vexed question, and I am not aware that much more could have been said. The argument of Mr. Madison against the Bank is very able and would be convincing if experience had not shown even to his own satisfaction that it was fallacious. A national mode of some kind of regulating the currency is indispensable to every country. Mr. Ames is not so strong upon the general position as I should have expected, and the argument drawn from the particular clauses weakens itself by its multiplication.1

After dinner, in the evening, my Wife and I went to see the President. Introduced into his sitting room formerly called the green room, where were numbers of persons, of whom I found out the names only of Mr. Wright of N.Y., Mr. Hubbard of N.H., Senators and a Mr. Kelly from Peru, Illinois. They all left and then Govr. Dickerson came in.2 On the whole, the visit was very well, but I was much struck with the air ennueyé of the President and distrait too. He certainly manifests the cares of Office very much.

During our stay Mr. Hubbard mentioned his having received the intelligence of Mr. Woodbury’s nomination to be Chief Justice in New Hampshire, which seemed to spread a momentary gleam of satisfaction over his features. Yet the rumor is that Kendall is to succeed. A man in his way likely to be even more troublesome. Returned home reflecting upon the moral of ambition in ordinary men—and extraordinary ones too where the difference is only in the gloss which ability throws over the picture.


The debate on the “bill to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States” in the House of Representatives, 1–7 Feb. 1791, is recorded in M. 50St. Clair Clarke and D. A. Hall, comps., Legislative and Documentary History of the Bank of the United States, Washington, 1832, p. 37–85. A copy is at MQA.


Although the brothers Mahlon and Philemon Dickerson had each been governor of New Jersey, neither was presently so. Mahlon Dickerson was currently secretary of the navy ( DAB ).