Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

374 Thursday. 2nd. CFA Thursday. 2nd. CFA
Thursday. 2nd.

This was the regular day allotted by the State Authorities according to custom, to the purpose of offering thanks for the manifold blessing received by us from the divine source.1 It came today in unclouded beauty. I arose and was soon put into the service by my father to copy some Papers which he wished to arrange in the settlement of my Grandfather’s Estate before he went away. It became time to attend at the Meeting House, where we heard Mr. Whitney preach an uncommonly brisk Sermon for him, and the regular howled Anthem upon this occasion. On our return, we had the usual bountiful dinner. I cannot help feeling how valuable a practice this is in a Community. It seems to be a kind of outpouring of the heart for a Season of Bounty.

After having made a larger dinner than I ought to have done I went with my Father to see his Orchard which he has set out on Mount Wollaston. I was very much delighted with it and cannot but hope that it will turn out well. We stopped at the Judge’s on our return and paid a short visit after which we came home, took Tea and finished the Evening at the usual Thanksgiving Quincy Party at Mr. T. Greenleaf’s, which was stupid enough.


The observance of a Thursday during the fall of the year as a day of thanksgiving for the harvest became general in New England after 1730 when Connecticut shifted from Wednesday. While November was the more usual month for Thanksgiving, there were numerous instances of an October or a December observance. Moreover, the years both before and after the Revolution when the several colonies or states achieved a uniformity of date for the observance were quite exceptional. Early efforts to establish a national day of thanksgiving in the fall of the year foundered upon the church-state and federalist-antifederalist conflict. After national observances during the year 1777–1784 and in 1789, there were no further actions on the matter by the national government until 1863, from which year dates the annual observance of the last Thursday in November as a national Thanksgiving Day. See W. DeLoss Love, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, Boston, 1895, p. 364, 402–404, 408–409, 464–514.

Friday. 3rd. CFA Friday. 3rd. CFA
Friday. 3rd.

The day was warm but threatened with many Clouds. I spent more than an hour after breakfast, copying papers for my father. After executing these, I got ready to go to town. Madame my Mother this day took leave of Quincy on her return to Washington. She has proved to me over again that her residence there is not an agreeable one to her. I suppose she would be glad not to try it again. What a misfortune has this taste been to my Father. When I think upon it I feel grieved at the result, but it is not remediable.


We did not reach town until twelve o’clock when I went directly down to my Office. Of course I had exceeding little time to do any thing. I executed my work of every day and returned home. My Mother dined with us and started although with a lowering sky upon her Journey. She goes as far as Watertown tonight. I was glad that she went as it relieves us here from the responsibility which would have rested upon us had she been at Quincy alone. But I felt melancholy upon losing her. For she has been very kind to us.

I read Cicero as usual, though from the multitude of Notes I did not progress very fast. Evening, Corinne, and Lady Morgan for a short time, but as my Wife was very much wearied from a sleepless night, she retired early and I read Mr. Drake’s Sketch of Addison, after which I reviewed the rest of the Eleventh Book of Paradise Lost, and read the Twelfth Book. Finished two Numbers of the Tatler.