Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1



23d. CFA


23d. CFA

At about one in the morning, we were roused by the announcement of our arrival at Baltimore, whereupon I dressed myself and walked up to Barnum’s1 on one of the most rainy mornings in the year. After taking some time to dress myself I found myself at fault for two hours, and after all the examination of the papers possible finding that the envious minutes would not fly I took a nap in the news room, which brought it to the time of departure. It rained all 19day and the country looked melancholy so that I performed this part of my journey not half so much elated this time as I was last, but I was tranquil and happy, as if there was nothing in the world which I could wish and no one to envy. A young man by name Jacobs was with us who had also been in the boats yesterday. He appeared to be what I call a high fellow and although he informed me that he had but just recovered from a consumption, it did not appear to me that he dieted in the least.

At last the Capitol came in sight and with silent satisfaction I watched all the improvements which had taken place since last winter. I found not much alteration except in the levelling of the hills and the widening and gravelling of the streets which has improved the appearance of the city very much. But the day was so bad that nothing could be seen to advantage. Being determined not to alarm the family I got out at Strother’s2 and left my trunk there, so that I walked home and walked into the parlour like an every day acquaintance. After the usual salutations upon such occasions I set myself down in a chair perfectly satisfied with myself and every thing around me. Madame was well.3 Johnson, John, Mary and Abby were well.4 Monsieur was out to dine, consequently he was well. John’s horse was sick but as he was no old acquaintance I felt not much. Poor Booth5 appeared rejoiced as much as myself.

After conversation and dinner as there was a party here this evening, I was reduced to the disagreable necessity of appearing, fatigued as I was. I found no opportunity to meet my father until late in the Evening and our salutations passed in the middle of the company. It was very cordial on his part and not less so on mine. He has been so indulgent to me that I feel more and more in his debt every day. The evening was very so-so to me as I saw some of my old acquaintances here, and I was otherwise dull. After it was over and I had had a little conversation with my father I retired having (with the exception of five hours last night) been up dressed for ninety-six hours in succession, and more. Johnson appears to be in bad health. He arrived here on Sunday, from Rockville.6 John retired also with me. He appears to be in the highest spirits.


Barnum’s Hotel, on the southwest corner of Fayette and Calvert streets (J. Thomas Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County, Phila., 1881, p. 551).


Strother’s Hotel, on the northwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street (Bryan, Hist. of the National Capital , 2:14, and note).


Louisa Catherine (Johnson) Adams, CFA’s mother. “Monsieur,” mentioned below, is, of course, John Quincy Adams, CFA’s father. These lingering French designations for his parents resulted from CFA’s early life and education on the Continent. As a boy he preferred speaking French to English 20(JQA, Diary, 30 June 1812). “Madame” remained the customary name for LCA in the next generation as well; see a famous passage in the first chapter of HA’s Education describing her in old age at the Adams homestead in Quincy.


Abigail Smith Adams (1806–1845), a daughter of TBA, lived much of the time with her uncle JQA in Washington. See Adams Genealogy.


The family dog.


Johnson Hellen had just entered law practice in Rockville, Md. (JA2 to Caleb Stark, Jr., 23 Dec. 1823, MBU). Why he removed from the Adams household and why he chose that country town are not known.