Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Thursday. 14th. CFA Thursday. 14th. CFA
Thursday. 14th.
Quincy

I went to Boston this morning in my own way, and passed by the blackened walls which are all that remain of the Convent. The feeling that came over me was one of the most affecting I ever experienced. The illiberality of our people has always been known to me but I had always supposed their love of order such that it would prevent any public exhibition of it. It seems I was mistaken and that there stands now a monument far more striking than that of Bunker hill to call up emotions of horror and disgust.

My father came into town with the Carriage which is to return with 361my Wife and family to Quincy. Mr. Odiorne and Mr. Henry D. Ward called to see him but he had gone. At one, I went to Quincy. Found my mother in good health. Afternoon quietly at home. Read much of Mr. Jefferson’s Letters which grew more malignant as he grew older. The passions of the man did not soften nor did he arrive at any of those good feelings in human nature which attach us to character. Read Ovid and a little of German. Evening. Conversation. There was a very severe thunder shower which lasted some hours during the night and made us quite uncomfortable.

Friday. 15th. CFA Friday. 15th. CFA
Friday. 15th.

I remained at home today and passed much of my time in making a rough draught of what I might have to say in case I should attend the Antimasonic Convention. It is difficult to foresee precisely what the contingency may be and I wish on that account only so to methodize my thoughts as to enable me to make use of them in train if I should have occasion. A new element appears to have entered into the composition of our politics. The Antimasonic Committee of Worcester have addressed a letter to Governor Davis which he has answered. With a prodigious multitude of words and a tone of timid anxiety, he has ventured to express an opinion that the Masons should dissolve. What the operation of this will be, remains to be seen, but it does something to relieve me from my difficulties.1

Read some of Jefferson. Afternoon, J. H. Foster and his Wife paid a visit.2 He has become inoculated with the prejudices of the coarse, ignorant mob. He says that one of the leaders is, thank God,3 taken, and has confessed. Read Ovid. Conversation with my father. Jefferson and Hamilton, the funding system and their general quarrels. Story that Hamilton wrote anonymous Letters to Washington accusing him which was the cause of Jefferson’s bitterness.

1.

The Antimasons were currently torn between the opposing wings of the party composed of those who were normally either National Republicans or Democrats. The Democrats among the Antimasons had been making considerable progress in their efforts to swing Massachusetts Antimasonry in the Democratic direction and to effect an alliance in support of Judge Marcus Morton for the governorship. Their success stemmed from the uncompromising way the National Republicans in the Massachusetts House of Representatives had denied the claims of Antimasons to a share of the vacant seats in the Senate following the election of Gov. Davis with antimasonic help, and from the National Republican majority’s action in causing the report of the joint committee investigating Freemasonry to be tabled.

The National Republicans in or allied with the antimasonic party sought to counter the drift toward the Democrats by persuading Gov. Davis that he should issue a statement declaring his support 362for the dissolution of Freemasonry as an institution. The fruit of their labors was the equivocal statement from Davis which did not prove as satisfactory to the Antimasons as CFA seems to have hoped, but probably served to prevent the endorsement of the Democratic ticket by the Antimasons (Darling, Political Changes in Mass. , p. 118–123).

2.

Mrs. James Hiller Foster was a niece of AA. See vol. 1:155 and Adams Genealogy.

3.

The parenthetical exclamation is clearly an expression of CFA’s position, not Foster’s.