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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0002-0002-0006

Author: CFA
Date: 1823-12-22


Thus we travelled on, rapidly and comfortably throughout the night and at six o’clock on the next morning we arrived at the city of Philadelphia, and were set down at the Mansion House. Much to my astonishment I found that Washington Hall had been burnt down since I had been here last winter, that Renshaw had moved away and that a man by name Bayley had just taken his place.1 The waiters were raw and troubled me. I staid here however only to breakfast and dress after which I took my course to the Steam Boat which went at ten o’clock. It had been some years since I had been in a regular steamboat before and I was the more pleased with this method of conveyance by contrasting it with the rough motion of a stage. The great objection to them is that when men travel alone they are apt to make them feel alone among a multitude. Society is not sufficiently thrown together to force conversation between men ignorant of each other as in a stage. Consequently, unless one obtains a book, it will be an amazingly dull voyage to him. For my part, I purchased Moore’s Collection of Anecdotes for want of something better. The { 18 } bookstore was a miserable one and there was nothing else but religion in it. This book I read during the day although I never saw a more stupid collection of anecdotes in all my life.
After dinner I recognized Mr. Tyler, a Man who claims relationship in some way with us, I believe, and who sells lottery tickets in Washington.2 He is at present deeply interested in the politics of the day particularly the Presidential question the changes on which he was perpetually ringing. It is the fashion in the boats of this kind to electioneer all the passengers and it is usual on the Mississipi to make nominations of some one of the candidates. There was no agreement here however there being some supporters to each of the men. From Newcastle to Frenchtown we have to ride across in stages into one of which I happened to be thrown with him and he forced me into conversation which troubled me as it required a great share of prudence to get through it properly. Perhaps I said more than I ought.
Here I made acquaintance with a man who appeared to have been a Scotchman and Sea captain but was now settled in Charleston. We had considerable conversation respecting a number of the bright young men there and on the whole managed to get over the longest sixteen miles and the slowest horses in the world, with some pleasure. It was evening before we got on board the other boat and very dark, and as I was considerably fatigued I retired to bed immediately after supper, and soon got to sleep, being serenaded into a doze by a most unhallowed, unearthly sound of fiddling.
1. The Mansion House Hotel was the old Bingham mansion, No. 122, on the west side of Third Street, between Walnut and Spruce, which was built about 1790. It was leased by William Renshaw, who opened a hotel in 1807. Renshaw opened the New Mansion House Hotel at Eleventh and Market streets in 1812, but two years later, returned to keep his old place which he renamed the Washington Hall Hotel. The latter was destroyed by fire on 17 March 1823. (PMHB, 49 [1925]:190.)
2. Benjamin Owen Tyler was a kinsman of the Adams family through the Owens and the Tylers of Uxbridge, Mass. (JQA, Diary, 1 July 1818).

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0002-0002-0007

Author: CFA
Date: 1823-12-23


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 { 19 } day 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.
1. 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).
2. Strother’s Hotel, on the northwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street (Bryan, Hist. of the National Capital, 2:14, and note).
3. 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.
4. Abigail Smith Adams (1806–1845), a daughter of TBA, lived much of the time with her uncle JQA in Washington. See Adams Genealogy.
5. The family dog.
6. 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.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.