Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

3 July.

5 July.

[4 July.] CFA


[4 July.] CFA
4 July.

The water, and the constant round of dissipation in which we lived had had the effect of quite breaking us all up, and on the morning of the 4th of July, I among the rest could hardly hold up my head. Blunt came for me directly after breakfast however and was inexorable, so that I was dragged to the Castle Garden to see the grand procession. Here I found Charles King who made me go through a presentation to the Governor (Clinton)1 and all the General Officers. 61From here I was carried to Mr. Bradish’s room by these two, and after a short visit, I was then conducted to General Morton’s2 where I found a large Company waiting to see the grand procession. After many introductions and a great deal of exertion which was all forced I saw the whole ceremony as I have seen it a hundred times and felt a little interested as usual. All the great company in New York was there. Miss Morton is a young lady who has dashed for some time past as a leading belle but now going fast into the list of the passées. I talked a little with her upon the subject of the Quincys, who of course are matters of interest to both as connections of each family.

Leaving this house after the salute had been given to Morton as General in chief, Blunt dragged me to the City Hall where I saw nothing of what was going on without, but was amused as well as possible by the Hosacks &c. and the lively Miss Fairlie. After all that was to be seen had been exhibited and the troops had fired, my good friend who had been assiduous beyond measure during the day so far, happening to see a dinner in preparation at Mrs. Colden’s,3 was by a great deal too anxious to be one of that party, to recollect me, suddenly bolted with them and I was only aware that he had gone not to return upon the man’s coming to close the room in which we had been. Unfortunately I had remained too long and could not get out now, so that I passed two hours in a most stupid way. Staring about, gazing at a crowd, and now and then a jostling not a little rude among a set of people who having rushed in filled up every avenue and entirely precluded the possibility of going in a contrary direction, were the delightful amusements of two hours when having determined to make a bold push, I got out over a fence behind the City Hall and returned to take a short period of rest, in order to get through the remainder of the day. I found my companions drinking as usual and I joined them in a glass of Claret which they had adopted in their moderation. I had taken nothing in the shape of food for two days owing to my want of appetite occasioned by a violent diarrhoea—and so this revived my little rest of strength which was still to have a severe trial. Boardman had drank Saratoga water today and was receiving the benefit of the dose in the shape of a violent emetic. Tudor and Richardson still held out.

At half past four I returned to the City Hall, waited a short time in order to collect the company which amounted to about six hundred individuals and after an address to the young son of Fulton4 and the presentation of a medal to him by the Mayor of the City on the part of the authorities, with speeches pro and con, we sat down to 62dinner. All the city Officers, National Officers of distinction, military and civil, State authorities and distinguished Strangers were present, from the Bishop of Chili to my humble self. It being the fiftieth Anniversary of the celebrated day the people of New York had thought proper to celebrate it with unusual pomp, so the City authorities magnanimously resolved to roast Oxen whole and set barrels of Beer running for the benefit and at the expense of their constituents while for this patriotic resolution, they decreed for themselves and friends, a feast of Turtle and Champagne merely as a fair equivalent. The dinner was what all public dinners are, exceedingly stale, flat and unprofitable. Many foolish toasts, a great deal of holiday patriotism and some execrable singing. Letters were read from the remaining signers of the Declaration of Independence, declining the invitation which had been given them, and their healths were drank with Cheers at about the time when two of them had ceased to breathe.5 But the tables were growing riotous and I was getting tired so that I was glad to take an opportunity and slip off among a number who left the table. I went with Mr. Coale who sat next to me and we walked to the National Hotel together where he left me.

I was very kindly distinguished by many of my father’s friends who really seemed to feel an attachment to him amounting even to enthusiasm. But perhaps the wine produced as much of this as any thing else. My father has unfortunately such a cold manner of meeting this sort of feeling that I am surprised at the appearance of it at any time among his supporters. These mostly should be and are more impelled by a sense of his merit in the performance of his duty than by any art of personal popularity. This is, no doubt, the most flattering testimonial to a man’s public course of the two, but notwithstanding it is a matter to be regretted that the good feelings which enthusiasm for greatness of character always produces should not be further developed by the further exposure of agreeable personal qualities. These thoughts have often occurred to me in connection with my father and have always impressed me with a doubt of his complete success, at the same time that I have still more wondered at the peculiar and astonishing merit of his political abilities which in this democratical government have been able to form so complete a counterpoise. The people are more judges of external than internal merit, and more led by the winning graces of a flattering demagogue than by the more stern and severe character of the unbending Statesman. But be this as it will, I was glad to return and get to bed, without 63joining the young men at the Play where they had gone, but I had very little rest during the Night owing to the myriads of Musquitoes which had come over to spend the fourth of July at New York, from the marshes of Jersey.


Governor DeWitt Clinton (1769–1828), who was poised as yet between JQA’s friends and the anti-administration forces gathering around Andrew Jackson ( DAB ; see also JQA, Diary, 2 Sept., 6 and 24 Nov. 1826).


Jacob Morton (1761–1836), Princeton 1778, was for thirty years major-general of the New York state militia. His sister was the wife of Josiah Quincy, “the President” (Edmund Quincy, Josiah Quincy , p. 43–44; see Adams Genealogy).


Presumably Mrs. Cadwallader David Colden, formerly Maria Provost, daughter of the Right Reverend Samuel Provost, the first Episcopal bishop of New York ( DAB ).


Son of Robert Fulton, the famous engineer who built the steamboat Clermont in 1807 (same).


See entries for 7 and 9 July, below, and L. H. Butterfield, “The Jubilee of Independence,” VMHB , 61:119–140 (April 1953).