Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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

Clouds and light rain. Division as usual. Evening, my father’s Lecture.

I was at the Office reading No. 105 of the North American Review. The accounts this morning seem to favour the opinion that the State has chosen Morton for Governor and Everett will retire. This is rather new and unexpected but I cannot say surprising. On the whole it is even more of a punishment than I had desired for the threefold combination against my father which originally brought him in.1 I care but little as between the two parties generally for the one seems to have as little of steady principle as the other.2

At home. Hecuba. Menzel. In the evening I accompanied my father to the Masonic Temple where he was to deliver a Lecture upon the Smithsonian fund. The room was full of Mechanic Apprentices and their friends with a very small sprinkling of other persons whom I knew. The Lecture was interesting and more successful in the delivery than usual with him.3 It bore rather hard upon the Administration and upon Mr. Woodbury.4 After he had finished what he had for this evening he accompanied me home and after that, I began upon my redraught of the Lecture.


The early returns indicating the defeat of Edward Everett for reelection by the Democrat Marcus Morton were later confirmed (Boston Courier, 18 Nov., p. 3, cols. 2, 4). Everett had originally come to the governorship when Gov. John Davis was elected to the U.S. Senate to fill the unexpired term of Nathaniel Silsbee. That result had been brought about by the alliance of Everett with Daniel Webster and Davis in the prolonged and ultimately successful effort by the whigs, masons, and federalists in the Massachusetts legislature in Jan. – Feb. 1835 to deny the senate seat to JQA (vol. 6:63, 68, 74–75, 78–81). CFA had also entertained substantial reservations about Everett over many years despite the familial connection (see entry for 6 Aug. 1836, above, and vol. 3:9–10).

327 2.

The National Republican and Democratic parties.


The lecture on the Smithson bequest was the first of two that JQA had prepared for delivery before the Mechanic Apprentices’ Library Association in Boston. The second would, as it turned out, be read for him by the Rev. Lunt before both the Apprentices’ Association and at the Quincy Lyceum. The texts of the two lectures, an account of their composition, delivery, and contemporary publication, are contained in The Great Design, Two Lectures on the Smithson Bequest by John Quincy Adams, ed. Wilcomb E. Washburn, Washington, The Smithsonian Institution, 1965.


Levi Woodbury, secretary of the treasury.

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

Rainy but mild. Division as usual. Evening visit to Governor Everett.

My morning was not very well employed as my Office hours now need some special occupation. Read an article in Hunt’s Magazine by Judge Hopkinson which is very sensible1 and tried another upon Stone’s Life of Brant but failed. This is the work which Dr. Palfrey sent to me to review.2 Hecuba.

My father dined with me and returned to Quincy taking my Wife with him afterwards. After dinner, Menzel. In the evening, I went down to see Governor and Mrs. Everett. Had much conversation with him upon the present condition of affairs and the Election. He seems entirely disgusted with politics and now that it is over rather desirous of having it decided against him, for the present aspect is that the choice must devolve on the House. Continued my Lecture.


Judge Joseph Hopkinson’s article on “Commercial Integrity” appeared in Hunt’s Merchants’ Mag. , 1:377–390.


See the entry for 26 Sept. 1838, above. The review article read is probably that by James Handasyd Perkins in the Oct. 1839 issue of North Amer. Rev. , 49:277–316.

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

Mild and pleasant. Office. To Quincy to dine. Evening return, head ach.

I awoke this morning with a dull feeling the precursor of head ach which did not fail to take it’s usual course through the day until it sent me helpless to bed. At the Office I was occupied in the usual way. Deacon Spear came from Quincy and I was busy in accounts. The political news is not varied at all by the last returns. Either Morton or nobody is elected.

I went to Quincy at one o’clock and found the family in great distress. Little Fanny had passed a bad night and this day was speechless. The apprehension of course was that she was near her end. But the 328physician called in, Dr. Woodward, and Dr. Holbrook ascribed it to the effect of a violent anodyne given last evening which had operated otherwise than he had expected. This relieved the present apprehension although as it seemed to me not entirely with reason. I fear the poor child will not survive many days and that her end has been rather hastened than retarded by the mode of treatment adopted by Dr. Holbrook. This is altogether melancholy. I dined at Quincy and in the afternoon early we returned home.

Little Charles returned today from Portsmouth safe and well. I hardly know how much I prize my children until they are absent. My evening was utterly useless to me from my head ach.