Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

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.

Saturday. 16th. CFA Saturday. 16th. CFA
Saturday. 16th.

Morning cloudy but it afterwards grew warm. I went to town and was occupied for considerable time in business and commissions. We hear today that several of the leaders are taken and the investigation in the affair goes on successfully. So much the better. Nothing else material. Returned to Quincy.

Afternoon. Took a walk with Walter Hellen to Mount Wollaston to look at the Orchard. The trees purchased by my father look pretty well and bear some fruit this year, but the Baldwins do not succeed very well. The frost of two years ago seems to have had a very bad effect upon that particular tree every where. On my ascent of the hill, I had a feeling which is always pretty strong with me that I wish I had a house on the spot all ready, but I do not think I should ever have the enterprise to build one. Nor am I sure that I should ever like it after I had got it. The spot is nevertheless decidedly beautiful.1

Home. Read Ovid as usual. Evening some visitors, Mr. Beale and his daughter Anne with Mr. Emmons2 and his Wife of Boston who are staying there.

1.

For other statements of the same theme see vol. 3:268; 4:362–363. The notion of “a mansion house” on Mount Wollaston, long cherished, came closest to fulfillment in 1845 when, upon CFA’s bidding, an architect, Alexander Jackson Davis of New York, had plans “in study,” and with CFA visited the site to explore the question of “placing the house.” Davis’ brief account is printed in The Adamses at Home, Boston, 1970, p. 46.

2.

Perhaps John L. Emmons, merchant, who lived at 11 Beacon Street ( Boston Directory, 1834).

Sunday. 17th. CFA Sunday. 17th. CFA
Sunday. 17th.

Pleasant day. I read a good deal of German. La Fontaine’s style is so easy and his stories are so interesting that I make great progress. Attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Eliot of Washington preach two sensible Sermons. The one from 1 Romans 7 “called to be Saints,” the other from 2 Corinthians 4. 4 “the glorious gospel of Christ,” the subject the nature and perfection of Christianity as 363evinced in its principal doctrines of atonement or reconciliation, regeneration and eternal life. He is a young man, just out of Cambridge and to be a Missionary.1

Having accidentally left Atterbury at Medford of whom but a single Sermon remains unread, I was obliged to look elsewhere and pitched upon a discourse of Warburton.2 John 18. 38. “Pilate saith unto him What is Truth? And when he had said this, he went out again.” He considers men’s prejudices against general truth, and their objections in particular to religious truth. His style is nervous and reflections sound. The remainder of the day passed in reading Jefferson and conversation.

1.

On Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot, see below, entry for 7 June 1835.

2.

See vol. 4:363.