Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Thursday. 5th.

Saturday 7th.

Friday. 6th. CFA Friday. 6th. CFA
Friday. 6th.

Morning pleasant. I have resumed my practice of taking the Shower bath before breakfast which I found during my last stay so refreshing. After breakfast Mr. Frothingham accompanied me to town, though I put up my Gig in Charlestown as it was my design to dine at Mr. Everett’s, and we walked from there.1 My first object was to go and see Mr. Greene a broker in this place who advertises some Boylston Insurance Stock.2 As I find none of the Atlas and it is becoming harder to make investments, I thought I would try for some of this, but he asked more than I could make up my mind to give without consulting some person who has a knowledge of the Stock. I tried to see Mr. James H. Foster but could not succeed. The rest of my time was taken up in reading Hutchinson until the proper moment to go back to Charlestown.

Abby and Mr. Brooks were the only persons at Mr. Everett’s. We dined there, but I did not enjoy myself much. I cannot like Mr. Everett and I was made to feel of so little consequence that I more than once wished myself away. Perhaps this was vanity, and I ought to task myself for it. But I can hardly do so, for it is no desire of mine to intrude myself, if I am asked I expect to be made to feel pleasantly. All this may be paying me for a day last Autumn. I was aware of my fault then, but I could not correct it. I can hardly believe such unworthy retaliation could be resorted to.

After dinner, we went out to see the gardens of Mr. Breed and Mr. Tufts on Breed’s Hill, the gentlemen were not in, but we passed over them. They are good, but laid out in wretched taste. Crammed together all kinds of things so as to produce nothing but a jumble of good fruit.3 We passed from there to the Dry Dock which is constructing at the Navy Yard, a splendid work very creditable to the Nation.4 This made a call necessary upon Captn. Morris who was not at home.5

To finish our labours, we crossed to the State Prison and examined throughout it’s economy.6 They have adopted there the principle of the Sing Sing and Auburn prisons in New York. Labour without any communication among the Prisoners. Their cells are small and separate, built entirely of Stone. They are kept at hard labour during the day and inclosed at night. On the whole a tolerably good scheme but it seemed to me that there is hardly sufficient discrimination in the dis-296grace attached to crimes. A man convicted for larceny of twenty dollars having for the period of his confinement precisely the same disgrace and suffering with one who has committed burglary or murder in the second degree. The length of time is the only distinction. Now the association of criminals for such very different offences for any period, produces an injurious impression both in their own minds and in those who see them—As we always attach our ideas more to the present than the future.7 We returned to tea at Mr. Everett’s. I was on the whole, very much satisfied with that visit. It is well to see human nature in all it’s stages, and in none do questions of more importance to the whole Community present themselves than in this. We attended the religious exercises there and were edified by the Chaplain who does not deserve his place.8 I rode home with my Wife thoroughly fatigued and glad to get home.


The walk from Charlestown across the Charles River Bridge or the new Warren Bridge to the North End of Boston was a short one, less than half a mile (Winsor, Memorial History of Boston , 3:554–555).


Simon E. Greene’s brokerage office was in the lobby of the State Bank, 53 State Street ( Boston Directory, 1830–1831).


Breed’s Hill rose to a modest height between the Navy Yard and the higher Bunker Hill. The estates of Ebenezer Breed and Nathan Tufts were two of the eight into which Breed’s Hill was divided. The Tufts mansion was “placed far back from the street at the top of terraces covered by grass shaded by a few trees, and commanding a fine view towards the water.” Later, the Tufts house was used as a boarding school, and the estate was called “Rydal Mount” (James F. Hunnewell, A Century of Town Life ... Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1785–1887, Boston, 1888, p. 91).


Construction on the granite dry dock was begun in 1827 under the superintendence and to the engineering plans of Loammi Baldwin (1780–1838). The dock was completed in 1834 at a cost in excess of $677,000 (Winsor, Memorial History of Boston , 3:354–356; a plan of the Navy Yard issued in 1828 is reproduced at 3:350).


The Commandant’s house in the Navy Yard, located almost at the foot of Breed’s Hill and opposite to the Tufts estate, was “two stories high, of brick, square, with two bold swells towards a garden and the Yard and harbor.” (Hunnewell, A Century of Town Life ..., p. 91). On Commodore Charles Morris, see entry for 14 Aug., below.


The State Prison, situated along the banks of the Charles in a bay, was built in 1804–1805 entirely of hewn stone. The complex is described fully in James F. Hunnewell, Bibliography of Charlestown, Mass., Boston, 1880, p. 41; an engraving of the facade of the main building is reproduced in Hunnewell, A Century of Town Life ..., facing p. 84.


CFA’s penological views are considerably in advance of those generally encountered during this period in the United States.


Rev. Jared Curtis served as chaplain at the State Prison at an annual salary of $500 ( Mass. Register, 1830, p. 164).