Descriptive List of Illustrations
This small portrait in color was painted in 1827 by Anson Dickinson (1779–1852), the Connecticut-born miniaturist who began painting in 1803 and thereafter lived the life of an itinerant artist. For a discussion of Dickinson’s works see William Dunlap, The History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States,
ed. Frank W. Bayley and Charles E. Goodspeed, Boston, 1918, 2:369–370. The miniature shows that Adams was of fair complexion with light brown eyes and had finely textured auburn hair. He is wearing a handsome royal-blue coat with a high silk choker and a jeweled stick pin. The miniature was commissioned by Adams as a gift for his fiancée, Abigail B. Brooks (see vol. 2:111
). The picture remained in the Adams family for generations although the identity of the subject was lost. The heirlooms of Mary Adams (1846–1928), the youngest and last surviving child of Charles Francis Adams, and her husband, Dr. Henry Parker Quincy (see Adams Genealogy), were sold at auction on 12 January 1946 and among these Adams-Quincy mementos was the little picture (Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., sale catalogue no. 724, lot 17, with illustration). The miniature was given to the Smithsonian Institution in 1950.
Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.
“North East View of the Several Halls of Harvard College,” by Alvan Fisher in 1821
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This is an 1823 engraving by Charles Cutler Torrey (1799–1827) of a wash drawing and oil painting, both done in 1821 by the Massachusetts landscape artist, Alvan Fisher (1792–1863). Torrey, who studied engraving in Philadelphia, established himself in Salem in 1820 and is well known for this engraved view. Fisher was a pioneer of the Hudson River school whose pictures of rural life were so popular that he was able to maintain a studio in Boston. See David McNeeley Stauffer, American Engravers upon Copper and Steel, New York, 1907, 1:274; William Dunlap, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States, ed. Frank W. Bayley and Charles E. Goodspeed, Boston, 1918, 3:32.
The picture shows Harvard College in Charles Francis Adams’ student days. The building on the left is University Hall, erected in 1814–1815 with money appropriated by the Massachusetts legislature. The ground floor contained four halls for commons, one for each class, and was the scene of the commencement dinners for
many years. A new chapel occupied one end of the structure where faculty and students worshiped. Recitations were held in the rest of the building. Massachusetts Hall, the oldest edifice at Harvard, was completed in 1720 to house students, but was done over into classrooms in the 1870’s. The third building, Harvard Hall (barely seen in the engraving), was completed in 1766 to replace old Harvard Hall, which burned down. In Adams’ time this hall contained the Library on the second floor and the philosophical apparatus downstairs. Lectures and recitations were held in most rooms, Harvard Hall being the first college structure without bedrooms or studies. Although the commons were moved to University Hall as mentioned, commencement dinners were sometimes held in this older hall. Renovated in the 1840’s and later, Harvard Hall has been considerably altered. Next is Hollis Hall, dedicated in 1764, a dormitory containing bedroom-and-study quarters. During his sophomore year Adams lived here with his brother John in room No. 15. The next to the last building is Stoughton Hall (almost hidden), erected in 1805, the last residential house planned with the old-fashioned chamber-and-study arrangement. The last structure (on the extreme right) is the popular Holworthy Hall, completed in 1812, the first residential hall containing suites of rooms—two bedrooms and a sitting room or study. All these buildings still stand in the Harvard Yard; Massachusetts, Harvard, and Hollis halls are “models of Georgian architecture.” Craigie Road, the vantage point in the picture, is now Cambridge Street. The viewer would be standing on what is now the Delta of Memorial Hall, looking southward. For fuller descriptions of these historic buildings see Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636–1936
, Cambridge, 1936, and Hamilton V. Bail, Views of Harvard: A Pictorial Record to 1860,
Cambridge, 1949, p. 148–163.
Courtesy of Harvard University.
The Old House in Quincy from Presidents Hill, 1822, by Eliza Susan Quincy
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Watercolor sketch of the Old House or “seat of John Adams,” drawn by Eliza Susan Quincy in 1822 from Presidents Hill. It is bound in the first volume of her two-volume “Memoir,” now part of the Quincy Family Collection in the Massachusetts Historical Society. A year later Miss Quincy wrote the following description of the watercolor, which is now bound with it in the Memoir: “View of the house of Prest. John Adams, in the town of Quincy, Mass., 1823, from Presidents Hill, with a distant view of Dorchester Heights and the city of Boston on the right. In the middle distance is seen the roof of the house of Josiah Quincy, and beyond it to the left, is Sachem’s Hill, on the isthmus which connects Squantum with the main-land.”
The Old House was built in 1731 by Leonard Vassall, a wealthy sugar planter from Jamaica, as a summer residence. Later, his daughter, and then a grandson, Leonard Vassall Borland, owned it. John Adams bought it through agents in September 1787, nine months before his return to America in 1788 after a decade of service in the capitals of Europe. From then until the death of Brooks Adams
in 1927 the house was occupied by successive generations of Adamses. The Adams Memorial Society, composed of members of the family, maintained the mansion after 1927, and in 1946 the house was presented to the United States and designated a national historic site. In this pair of volumes, and increasingly in those that will follow, the life of Charles Francis Adams is and will become more entangled with the biography of this house. His father acquired it in 1826 by inheritance and purchase after the death of John Adams, and his uncle, Thomas Boylston Adams, his wife, and children, who had lived here as caretakers for John Adams, continued on until 1829. After Charles Francis Adams married Abigail B. Brooks in 1829, they summered at the “Mansion” or “Old House.” Then in 1837 Adams built a frame house on the north slope of Presidents Hill, just above the Old House, and in all likelihood not far from the position from which the artist drew the sketch for this watercolor. (The house on the hill is still standing at 76 Presidents Lane.) Soon after his father’s death in 1848, Charles Francis Adams took the Old House over and began a notable series of changes. By the time he finished the Stone Library and the stables in the early 1870’s, the Old House had been converted from a farm dwelling with utilitarian outbuildings to the estate of a gentleman of letters. Many of his arrangements at the house were made to facilitate his efforts to put the family papers in order and edit them for publication. It is this stage in the life of the house, little modified in the intervening years, that is most apparent to the visitor at the Adams homestead today.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
This is the earliest manuscript page of Adams’ diaries and contains epitomes of a longer journal now lost. Although cryptic, the entries give some idea of how the thirteen-year-old Adams lived in Washington. The sample also shows how Adams allotted two lines in this index notebook for each day of the month, used dominical letters, and introduced each day’s entry with the date and the time of his rising. All these distinctive diary habits are explained in the Introduction. A glance at the illustration also makes the reader aware of the young man’s rather loose punctuation, which the editors have conventionalized for the sake of readability.
This bust portrait (24 1/8” × 20”) of J. Q. Adams was painted from life in Washington in 1824. Thomas Sully (1783–1872), the artist, was born in England but came to America when he was nine years old and, after training for his profession, lived mostly in Philadelphia. See Earle W. Huckel, “Thomas Sully in Philadelphia,” Antiques, 54:270–271 (October 1948). The painting was first owned by Henry Clay, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, and it descended to his grandson, George H. Clay. Subsequently it had other owners, and it was given to the National Gallery of Art in 1942.
In 1824 Secretary of State Adams was at the crest of his diplomatic career, and he enjoyed the comfort of a lively family. His son Charles usually realized that he had an “indulgent” parent (see p. 19
), but he also thought him an undemonstrative one. “The ways
of kindness are not known to many who by no means want the will,
” he complained in his Diary (see p. 332–333
), “and I have this exemplified very strongly in the family.” So completely in control of himself as never to show emotion, John Quincy Adams seemed to his son to be “perpetually wearing the Iron mask” (see p. 315
). Whatever its disadvantages in a father, this same “poker face” was a great asset in a diplomat—as Charles Francis Adams himself signally demonstrated years later as the imperturbable United States minister to Great Britain during the Civil War.
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.
Louisa Catherine Adams (Mrs. John Quincy Adams) in 1818, by Gilbert Stuart
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Louisa Catherine (Johnson) Adams’ portrait was painted in Boston in 1818 by the celebrated artist Gilbert Stuart and is a mate for one of her husband executed at the same time. The picture (30” x 25”) shows that the stylishly dressed Mrs. Adams was of delicate features with light brown hair and dark brown eyes. A well-educated, “lively” and “pleasing” woman (see p. 315
), she was in many ways her young son’s ideal. Her manners, he thought, “inexpressibly delightful,” while her affections were “most powerful” (see p. 332
). When he was given the portrait in 1829 (see vol. 2:426
), Adams welcomed the gift but regretted its “sorrowful” expression (see vol. 2:430
), which reminded him that in recent years his mother, falling into despair and melancholia, had lost her pride in appearance and her former “elasticity” of spirits.
Courtesy of Mrs. Arthur Adams, Dover, Massachusetts.
This simple yet handsome bookplate of Charles Francis Adams appears in some of his early diaries and in those books he bought or was given. “Life without letters is death” was surely a dramatic embellishment for his nameplate, but the young Adams loved literature, history, and biography, and believed his real education would come from books. While at Harvard he not only read omnivorously but purchased books beyond his means. When in Washington or Quincy he read his father’s or grandfather’s volumes, and he regretted that John Adams had deeded his library to the town of Quincy, for Adams felt he was losing a part of his heritage. In later years it was Charles Francis Adams who built the beautiful Stone Library next to the Adams Mansion in Quincy so that the family’s books could be gathered and preserved.
Charles Francis Adams acquired his copy of Samuel Butler’s Hudibras
in July 1822 while he was in attendance at “Cambridge Uni•
versity” (now more commonly called Harvard) and he mentions reading it in 1826 (see vol. 2:82
). A satire in octosyllabic couplets, Hudibras
was published in three parts between 1663 and 1678 in London. The mock-heroic poem ridicules the “hypocrisy and self-seeking of the Presbyterians and Independents” by exposing their sectarian squabbles and casuistry. The engraving on the titlepage depicts scenes from part II, canto 3, in which the ambitious Hudibras desires to marry a widow of property, becomes unsure of his prospects and consults the astrologer Sidrophel, is found to be a coward and beaten. See Sir Paul Harvey, comp., The Oxford Companion to English Literature,
Oxford, 1932. Adams’ copy of the work was published in London in 1817. The volume bears the diarist’s bookplate (see companion illustration) and signature.
Courtesy of the National Park Service, Adams National Historic Site.
“A Foot-Race,” Cartoon of the 1824 Presidential Contest, by David Claypoole Johnston
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An engraving showing John Quincy Adams (the runner in the middle) slightly ahead in the presidential footrace, with William H. Crawford of Georgia (on Adams’ right) closely behind, and General Andrew Jackson farther back but kicking up dust in his spurt forward. Notice that Henry Clay (right foreground in black boots) is far behind on the road. Candidates and not issues dominated the campaign, as the cartoon vividly shows. Jackson is the people’s choice or “son,” and though “hindmost” in the race, the thin contender had the “best bone” or appearance. Statements about John Quincy Adams are not flattering. Depicted as a rotund sprinter, he is nevertheless a man of uncertain health, being afflicted with both the “bots” and the “Quinsy,” the latter a bad pun. He was probably allowed to lead the race only because it had become a custom since Jefferson’s day for the Secretary of State to step up to the presidency. The gentleman waving the cocked hat and cheering his “son Jack” is, of course, John Adams. Crawford gets little attention except for the allusion to Ninian Edwards’ attempt to blacken the Georgian’s name (note the wordplay on “Ninny”). (See note 2
on entry for 1 May 1824, p. 110.) Henry Clay, just about out of the race, is characterized as a jockey, who could still take the lead if he got down on “all fours” and began “dealing”—a reference, no doubt, to the Kentuckian’s fondness for gambling. In the background the President’s House (now the White House) is shown as a small thing, while the prestige of the office and the salary of $25,000 a year (a small fortune at the time) loom larger. The Capitol, which dominates the background, reminds the viewer where real power lay in 1824. Most political observers believed that the House of Representatives would choose a President after the failure of the Electoral College to produce one.
David Claypoole Johnston (1797–1865), the engraver, was a gifted cartoonist who became known as the “American Cruikshank.” In keeping with his playful references to John Quincy Adams’ “illnesses,” Johnston was not above signing his drawing with a scato•
logical pseudonym (bottom right in picture). See Clarence S. Brigham, “David Claypoole Johnston: The American Cruikshank,” American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings,
50 (1940): 98–110; Allan Nevins and Frank Weitenkampf, A Century of Political Cartoons: Caricature in the United States from 1800 to 1900,
New York, 1944, p. 32–33.
Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.
William J. Stone (1798–1865) engraved this plate of the White House in 1822 for Peter Force’s National Calendar. Stone was brought to America in 1805 and, after going to school in Pennsylvania, settled in Washington in 1815 as an engraver and lithographer. Although he engraved many fine maps of the Federal City, he is perhaps most famous for his facsimile of the Declaration of Independence done in 1823 during John Quincy Adams’ secretaryship. See George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of American Artists,1564–1860, New Haven and London, 1957.
The President’s House (or White House, as it began to be called as early as 1810) was designed by James Hoban as a white sandstone Georgian edifice of two stories above a ground floor, topped by a steep roof. George Washington picked the exact site of the building, and work began on it in 1792. The first residents of the mansion were John and Abigail Adams, who moved into the unfinished structure in 1800. During Thomas Jefferson’s tenure the foundation work and the steps of the north portico were completed, a slate roof replaced the older one, and a stone wall enclosed the private grounds. Interior work also progressed. After British troops set the White House afire in 1814, nothing remained but a burned shell, and it was not reoccupied until 1817, when, rebuilt, freshly painted white, and refurbished in glittering style, it became a showpiece for the nation during James Monroe’s administration. When John Quincy Adams’ family moved into the mansion, it was still an elegant house, but with the removal of much of the Monroe furniture great rooms were almost empty. Congress and President Adams worked to refurnish the house, but partisanship limited the effort. During Adams’ tenure, nevertheless, the grounds were graded and filled, and trees, shrubs, and gardens were planted. Still the exterior had a “rustic, haphazard look,” for the wings needed a coat of hard stucco and sheds leaned against the enclosing walls, where government clerks used to tie their horses.
Probably the most remembered heritage from the Adamses’ occupation of the White House is John Adams’ invocation which Franklin D. Roosevelt had carved into a mantlepiece: “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” See John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 November 1800, Adams Papers
; Amy La Follette Jensen, The White House,
New York, 1962, chapters 1–3.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.