Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Thursday. 20th. CFA Thursday. 20th. CFA
Thursday. 20th.

I went into town again today. The morning pleasant and cool. To the Athenaeum where I found no notice of my Papers. Dignified silence. This is certainly the most effective reply. To the House and thence to various places where I proposed to execute Commissions. I 200have so many things on hand as to make my time very valuable. Called at Russell and Odiorne’s about publishing my pamphlet. He said he would send to the Printers and get estimates. Thus passed the time and I returned to dine.

The town is full of the Abolition projects and the Meeting to be held to counteract them. This takes place tomorrow night at Faneuil Hall; the application is signed by most of our respectable citizens. I am glad I have nothing to do with it.1

Afternoon passed at home. Mr. and Mrs. Cruft with their son and a Dr. Breck of Alabama called. Assorting old files, five out of six papers of no value and yet I am afraid to throw them away, or destroy. Evening, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Greenleaf with their Niece Miss Mary Ann Greenleaf called and spent a few minutes. The sky was clear enough but before long in the night clouds came up with heavy rain. I this day dispatched a second bundle for Mrs. Smith.


Among those at the head of the movement for the anti-abolitionist meeting was Peter C. Brooks (JQA, Diary, 18 Aug.).

Friday. 21st. CFA Friday. 21st. CFA
Friday. 21st.

Morning cloudy with rain but it afterwards cleared away. I spent the day at home for the most part looking over my numbers and writing such parts as I wish to make more perfect. This is rather laborious. I also read more than a hundred lines of Juvenal’s sixth satire, and this besides assorting a large number of my Grandfather’s letters. The afternoon was passed in a very similar manner—On the whole moderately to advantage.

But my spirits are not so good. The ungenerous course of both the political parties of the Country leaves my Essay totally unnoticed, and I must go on working harder than ever. Shall I be discouraged? No, I will work harder than ever. I will establish my reputation if human effort can do it. The Deity gives me this as a trial and I hope I shall learn to benefit by it.

Evening at home. My father attended the town meeting upon the excitement which has been gotten up here about a libel of Mr. Cornell an orthodox Clergyman who is righteous overmuch.1 Nothing new.


On 1 Aug. the Trumpet, organ of the Massachusetts Missionary Society, had published a report in which the “moral and religious character of the inhabitants of Quincy” was attacked with severity. It had been written by Rev. William Mason Cornell, who had within the year come to the town as pastor of the Evangelical Congregational Church there. His denunciation was thought “slanderous,” town meetings were held, a committee that included JQA was appointed to deal with the issue, and the libel answered (JQA, Diary, 3, 5, 15–20121 Aug., passim; Columbian Centinel, 26 Aug., p. 2, cols. 6–7; p. 3, col. 1).

Cornell remained in Quincy; gave up the ministry to open The Quincy Family School there in 1839; became a principal figure in the establishment of the Quincy Lyceum and as a lecturer for it; and assumed local leadership in abolitionism. Still later he shifted his interests to medicine and health. He became professor of physiology, hygiene, and medical jurisprudence in the Female College of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia in 1851 and served in Philadelphia hospitals during the Civil War. He afterward returned to Boston where he opened a school for the advanced education of women. Throughout a long career of lecturing and writing on a variety of topics he maintained his ties in Quincy and was a steady contributor to the Quincy Patriot, from the files of which this sketch has been constructed.

Late in his life Cornell wrote an autobiographical work: Recollections of “Ye Olden Time,” Boston, 1878, the firs 213 pages of which relate to Quincy and include much on the Adamses. CFA found the Recollections “a thoroughly made up affair” (Diary, 18 June 1878).