Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

Monday. 4th.

Wednesday. 6th.

264 Tuesday 5th. CFA


Tuesday 5th. CFA
Tuesday 5th.

Went to Boston rather early to be in time for the opening of the Court. Received a letter from my Mother in a tone quite low spirited. She evidently would like very much to come on but is prevented by peculiar circumstances.1 I did not write to my Father, expecting his arrival daily. The greater part of the day was passed in the Superior Court listening to the argument upon the right of the Warren Bridge Company to build their bridge and upon the propriety of issuing an Injunction to stop them. Mr. Shaw opened on the part of the Complainants, the Charles River Bridge Corporation in the Morning and Messrs. Aylwin and Fletcher went into the defence during the afternoon.2 I could not remain until the close much to my regret. But my own impression was that the defence was weak so far as I heard it. Returned to Quincy. Worked a little in the Nursery and evening with the family. Mr. G. Beale called in.


LCA complained that she had “neither affections nor community” at Quincy and vowed not to return there “to expose myself to a repetition of insults which beggar as I am ... I am too proud to submit to” (LCA to CFA, 30 July 1828, Adams Papers).


The case was that of the proprietors of Charles River Bridge v. the proprietors of Warren Bridge, et al. (6 Pickering 376; 7 Pickering 344), which was later appealed to the United States Supreme Court (11 Peters 420). The legislature of Massachusetts in 1785 had authorized the Charles River Bridge Company to build and operate a toll bridge across the Charles River but did not confer exclusive privileges upon the corporation. The charter of the Warren Bridge Company (1828) allowed the construction of another bridge only a short distance away which should be turned over to the state upon recovery of construction costs. The proprietors of the Charles River Bridge Company sued for an injunction on the ground that construction of the new bridge constituted an impairment of the obligation of contracts. Daniel Webster and Lemuel Shaw (1781–1861) appeared for the complainants, William Cushing Alwyn and Richard Fletcher (1788–1869) for the defendants. See Andrew C. McLaughlin, A Constitutional History of the United States, N.Y., 1935, p. 464; DAB , under Richard Fletcher.