Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 30th. CFA Thursday. 30th. CFA
Thursday. 30th.

Morning cloudy but it afterwards cleared away very sultry, notwithstanding a change of wind. I had doubts about going to town but finally concluded upon it and reached it unusually early. Occupied an hour in performing commissions, and then busy in drawing up my Accounts to settlement for the Quarter. They present an unusual amount, but a poorer view of present prospects than any I have ever 80drawn up. I am endeavouring to familiarize my mind to the probable loss of all of my father’s Property. I see no reason why this should not take place, so long as my brother is engaged in a floating business, of which he is not entirely capable. This opinion I am aware is peculiar to me in our family but I have formed it from the experience of years. He has all his life made a great deal of noise about his success, and I never yet knew one of his transactions, which would bear a probe. Notions pervade the whole.1

Returned home to dinner and passed the Afternoon in assorting Papers as usual, excepting half an hour devoted to Horace’s Art of Poetry. Evening. Finished Pickering’s Review. A compound of evil passions, gathering force in the bitterness of years. It was expected to have demolished my Grandfather. And it’s author saw him exalted. Read over the Cunningham Letters. Grimm and the Spectator.


CFA maintained an at least partially erroneous view that the family’s current business difficulties in Washington were chargeable to JA2’s mismanagement and speculative bent. The heavy indebtedness, amounting at this time to $15,000, and the recent losses sustained were incurred as a result of JQA’s purchases of flour in the winter and early spring of 1831 partly to provide supplies for sale in the cold months during which the mill could not operate and partly as a speculation against the rising prices which JQA foresaw as an accompaniment to the European war he felt impended. When the war crisis passed, flour prices in Liverpool and London dropped sharply. JQA, Diary, 27 Jan.–21 June passim; JQA to JA2, 14, 26 June, 16 July (Adams Papers).