Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Friday. 10th.

Sunday 12th.

Saturday 11th. CFA Saturday 11th. CFA
Saturday 11th.

Cloudy but no rain. I sat down to work upon my Review of Grahame. But on the whole I find I can do little with it. My inclination is to give it up as a bad job. The vis does not seem to be in me to make a good thing of it, and if I could summon it, the result would be to unfit it for appearance before the public.

My father came in just then and I followed him down to his house soon after where I wasted some time over the papers. This settled the matter for the day, so on my return I went to work upon the MS and read a large part of J. A’s answer to Hamilton already never published.1 This is the work to which I must and will turn my attention—The arranging all these papers and reading the material ones. Afternoon, Lucretius and Bayle. Evening to tea at the Mansion and an hour afterwards. But returned early home.


JA’s published answer to the Letter from Alexander Hamilton Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United States, N.Y., 1800, first appeared in the form of 18 letters to the Boston Patriot, 15 April – 24 June 1809. It was reprinted in part as Correspondence of the Late President Adams, Originally Published in the Boston Patriot. In a Series of Letters, Boston, 1809.

CFA’s word “already,” over which he wrote “never,” would suggest that at the time he first wrote the journal entry, he believed that the MS he had found among his grandfather’s papers had provided the text for the published reply. At a later date, but before he came to prepare the papers for publication in JA’s Works , 1850–1856, he became aware that the versions already printed did not derive from the 90-page MS draft, probably written in 1801 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 399). For the Works CFA chose to use as his text the letters in the Patriot, deleting some passages but supplementing that text with footnote additions of paragraph length taken from the 92draft; see Works , 9:240.

In a note in his hand attached to the 1801 MS, CFA wrote that the “Draught ... [is] unsuited for publication.” That view seems to derive from the tone of vindictiveness and bitterness in it. His editorial practice generally was to excise passages from the papers where JA had indulged his emotions about Hamilton; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:lii; 3:386 – 388, 434–435. His action seems partly dictated by sensitivity to the “belligerent measures in which we have for two generations been involved” and partly by an admiration for Hamilton which a younger Adams could admit to after an interval of nearly fifty years; see vol. 6:358–359, and entry for 28 July 1838, above.