Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Sunday 11th. CFA Sunday 11th. CFA
Sunday 11th.

Morning fine. Attended Divine Service all day and heard Mr. 279Whitney preach a couple of Sermons upon the spirit which is now so prevalent, of Universalism.1 He is himself as much inclined that way as was advisable, but he draws a distinction, by which he admits the probability of future though not eternal punishment, against the doctrines of probable salvation in any event. A more dangerous doctrine than this can scarcely be conceived yet the tendency is always towards it. Nothing is more dangerous than liberality as it is affectedly called, for vice slides in under so specious a mask that good men find they are left in the lurch before they are at all aware of it. Mr. Whitney is a good man but one of the weak ones who does not see where his doctrines will be likely to leave him. Already he is alarmed by the distant sound, but he is likely to feel what he has been so long bringing about much more harshly before he dies. Another sect is trying to gain a footing and will probably succeed.2 The singing at this Church is horrible though called by the performers so fine as to inflict upon us a great deal of it.

In the evening I walked up to my Aunt Adams’ to make another attempt to see Miss Elizabeth, which I barely succeeded in doing. She is always out, and her Mother is so silly as to try to excuse it to me as if I cared. They sent for her tonight, so that I finished that Quarterly business, much to my satisfaction. Returned home to a quiet supper.


Although the history of Universalism began in Boston in 1785, its significant development as a church dates from 1817 when the Second Society was established and from 1819 when the Universalist Magazine was founded. By 1824 there were in New England and New York a dozen Universalist publications, and by 1830 there were four societies in Boston. (See A. A. Miner, “The Century of Universalism,” in Winsor, Memorial History of Boston , 3:483–508).


Universalist sermons currently were being preached in Quincy to a growing auditory, and a society was about to be formed. See Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 259–260, and below, vol. 4, entry for 26 June 1831, note.

Monday. 12th. CFA Monday. 12th. CFA
Monday. 12th.

The weather was cold and disagreeable. The wind from the Eastward brought a driving sea mist, which wet me pretty thoroughly before I reached town, so that I thought it advisable to go home and change my dress. My particular object in coming was to attend the town meeting for the settlement of the question as to the amount to be borrowed to make a Railway. I went and saw for the first time in my life a primary assembly of the people in Boston. It was not agreeable, particularly as it was very evident the sentiment of the mob was clear and strong. The speaking was none of it good, though some of it was violent enough. I felt somewhat excited although there was 280in fact nothing material to occasion it. But I confess I regretted that the public feeling should run so strongly in favour of a measure which I hold to be ruinous.1

The whole morning was taken up however so that I had only a minute to go and see Mr. Brooks after which I went out of town. The afternoon was passed in taking the list of the remaining books in the Entry and lower floor, leaving now only what are in the Upper Story. Finished Walpole’s 1st. Volume in the evening. An interesting account of a very uninteresting period.


The meeting held at 10 a.m. in Faneuil Hall was for the purpose of hearing and debating the report of a committee recommending application to the legislature for authority for the city to take stock in a railroad from Boston to the north or west. Without taking action, the meeting was adjourned to 10 a.m. on 2 Aug. (Boston Patriot, 13 July, p. 2, cols. 1–4).