Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Monday. 14th. CFA Monday. 14th. CFA
Monday. 14th.

Morning at the Office. Time passed rapidly and yet I did but little. Went to the State Bank and got three Shares of the Stock belonging 104to George formerly, transferred to me for which I pay par, making in all ten Shares belonging to me in that Institution, where I propose to stop.1 The Dividends are now so small there that I feel in some measure indisposed to set much of a stake in the Establishment, though for security I do not know that I could do better. At any rate I will do no more there, indeed I could not if I would. All my Stock is not invested in the best manner. A man in my situation finds it hard to come at correct information because I feel unwilling to ask for it lest I should excite attention. I design selling the six shares remaining of George’s and transferring the whole to the Fire and Marine or some other Insurance Company, to my father. For otherwise I am afraid he will call for it to go to Washington. And I am fearful of the result of his speculations in that place. It may make him rich and it may produce an effect directly the reverse.2

I then called to see Edward Blake who notified me that we were put upon a Committee together last Saturday Evening to decide the affairs of the Bank of the United States in our Debating Society.3 Here is a fine opportunity. We talked for an hour and then I went to vote for City Officers and to get a Mortgage recorded of my father’s Property to pay the bequests of the Will. Thus went the morning. I forgot to say however that I received a letter from my Father,4 containing the receipt from Philadelphia. But the seal had evidently been violated and this induced me to go round and attempt to discover if I could trace it to any body here. I satisfied myself that it was not done here, the next thing to know is if it was done at Washington. I wrote to my father this afternoon to know.5 We shall soon hear if the Post Office is really not to be trusted.

The afternoon was passed in reading Aeschines as usual and translating some part of what I had already done. The Oration is a powerful one. There is a great deal of reasoning talent in it. The Evening was spent in reading aloud in Clarissa Harlowe to Abby, the interest of which goes on increasing. It is written with an accuracy wonderfully minute.

1.

CFA’s seven shares had been purchased for him in Sept. 1828 upon his coming of age by GWA with funds provided by a gift from JQA (vol. 2:286). The shares had a par value of $60 (M/CFA/9).

2.

Since JQA’s acquisition in 1823 of the Columbian Mills (flour and meal) located in Rock Creek in the District of Columbia, they had proved a heavy drain on his resources and were requiring ever more capital. In 1829, with the assumption of responsibility by JA2 as manager, JQA’s hopes for the mills had been again renewed; see Bemis, JQA , 2:197–200, and entry for 17 Dec., below.

3.

MS reads “Societies.” Agitation against the Bank of the United States, a privately owned, profit-making institution which was the depository for public funds and had monopolistic control over the money supply, had been growing in 105the East during 1829, a depression year. The issue, dormant for some time, had been brought to the fore also by the election of Jackson, who held well-known antibanking views. Now that the President in his first Message had raised doubts about the constitutionality of the Bank, the question would be debated until it reached full maturity as the main issue in the election of 1832.

4.

9 Dec. (Adams Papers).

5.

(LbC, Adams Papers). See entry for 29 Dec., below.

Tuesday 15th. CFA Tuesday 15th. CFA
Tuesday 15th.

Morning at the Office. My time much taken up without being well able to ascertain how. I sat down and wrote upon the subject of the Bank of the United States. My ideas flow too fast. The great point with me now is to methodize, to arrange and above all, to condense. I wanted information as to facts and went to see Mr. Davis and ask him whether he still had in his possession the Copy of the works of Alexander Hamilton in order to see his report on the Bank.1 I did not find that but he gave me a Manuscript of Hamilton’s Opinion given to General Washington, in opposition to those of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Randolph,2 which I read with great interest. It takes what seems to me a very strong view of the question. After all, it is one of those subjects furnished by the Constitution which will always admit of two sides and of consequent division in public opinion. I was obliged to pay attention to other things so that I could not devote my whole morning to it, but I became so interested as to pursue the subject in the afternoon, and to write several pages of matter which may become useful hereafter. My only difficulty is that I have too many Irons in the Fire. Patience and Coolness.

I went to see Mr. Tarbell understanding he had called. I found him and he gave me Instructions to pursue the two Writs on Mr. Gilman’s Account which I propose to do.3 I read none of my Greek today, and on the whole passed the time in a silly fit of enthusiasm.

The Evening came, and with it the regular time for the weekly Meeting of the Family which was this Evening at Chardon’s. I went and passed the time much as usual. A little stupid or so, but that is always the case. I have not talent for indiscriminate Conversation and I know so little of Boston people that I cannot talk of them. This makes me feel terribly stiff. Will the feeling ever cease. I thought it would with my Marriage.

1.

An edition of the Works of Hamilton in 3 vols. had been published at New York in 1810. The “Report on a National Bank” [1790] is at 1:59–110.

2.

That is, Hamilton’s communication to Washington, 23 Feb. 1791, submitting his “Opinion on the Constitutionality of an Act to Establish a Bank” along with “the reasons which have induced him to entertain a different opinion” from that of the Secretary of State and Attorney General (Hamilton, Papers, ed. Syrett, 106 8:62–134). When CFA located a copy of Hamilton’s Works two days later at the Boston Athenaeum, he found that the document had also been printed (1:111–155), along with the “Report.”

3.

See below, entry for 21 Jan. 1830.