Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

264 Tuesday 5th. CFA Tuesday 5th. CFA
Tuesday 5th.

Went to Boston rather early to be in time for the opening of the Court. Received a letter from my Mother in a tone quite low spirited. She evidently would like very much to come on but is prevented by peculiar circumstances.1 I did not write to my Father, expecting his arrival daily. The greater part of the day was passed in the Superior Court listening to the argument upon the right of the Warren Bridge Company to build their bridge and upon the propriety of issuing an Injunction to stop them. Mr. Shaw opened on the part of the Complainants, the Charles River Bridge Corporation in the Morning and Messrs. Aylwin and Fletcher went into the defence during the afternoon.2 I could not remain until the close much to my regret. But my own impression was that the defence was weak so far as I heard it. Returned to Quincy. Worked a little in the Nursery and evening with the family. Mr. G. Beale called in.


LCA complained that she had “neither affections nor community” at Quincy and vowed not to return there “to expose myself to a repetition of insults which beggar as I am ... I am too proud to submit to” (LCA to CFA, 30 July 1828, Adams Papers).


The case was that of the proprietors of Charles River Bridge v. the proprietors of Warren Bridge, et al. (6 Pickering 376; 7 Pickering 344), which was later appealed to the United States Supreme Court (11 Peters 420). The legislature of Massachusetts in 1785 had authorized the Charles River Bridge Company to build and operate a toll bridge across the Charles River but did not confer exclusive privileges upon the corporation. The charter of the Warren Bridge Company (1828) allowed the construction of another bridge only a short distance away which should be turned over to the state upon recovery of construction costs. The proprietors of the Charles River Bridge Company sued for an injunction on the ground that construction of the new bridge constituted an impairment of the obligation of contracts. Daniel Webster and Lemuel Shaw (1781–1861) appeared for the complainants, William Cushing Alwyn and Richard Fletcher (1788–1869) for the defendants. See Andrew C. McLaughlin, A Constitutional History of the United States, N.Y., 1935, p. 464; DAB , under Richard Fletcher.

Wednesday. 6th. CFA Wednesday. 6th. CFA
Wednesday. 6th.

Morning rainy and unpleasant. Rode to Boston and attended Court all the morning. Mr. Webster closed on the part of the Plaintiffs. His argument was an excellent one and to me quite conclusive, but it was not so much methodized and digested as those I have generally heard from him. Rode to Medford to dinner and passed the afternoon and evening in conversation respecting many interesting subjects which must shortly press themselves to my attention. I do not feel encouraged about them.

Thursday. 7th. CFA Thursday. 7th. CFA
Thursday. 7th.

Rode to Boston this morning with Mr. Brooks in my gig. Morning 265at the Office reading Saunders which I find to be but a dull book. The law has become rather tedious to me. Met Abby at the Jeweller’s where she went to obtain a present for Miss Charlotte Gray whose engagement to Mr. Ignatius Sargent is just announced. Executive Record in the afternoon and finished the review of Cicero for Archias. Went to see Abby by request and found myself in a variety of engagements for tomorrow and next day. Rode out of town early in order to move my room upstairs to make way for the accommodation of my father who is now expected every day. Thomas B. and Elizabeth C. Adams had returned from Portland and I passed the evening in conversation.