In these volumes the second decade of the sixty-year diary of Charles Francis Adams, the third of the family’s statesmen, is begun. As was true of the two earlier volumes of the Diary, the section appearing here has not before reached print.
Covering the period from Adams’s marriage in September 1829 to the end of 1832, these volumes record the early years of his maturity during which he was seeking to find his vocation. Engaged in the day-to-day management of John Adams’s business interests in Boston, he nevertheless had no inclination toward commerce or the active practice of law. Son and grandson of Presidents, proud heir to a name already great and controversial in American politics, he also at this time considered himself “not fitted for the noise of public life.” Dependent for support on his father and father-in-law but determined to maintain his independence, he devoted his available time to a program of studies and writing that would prepare him for a career he hesitated to name but in which he wished distinction. His own public career still years away, he was drawn at this period to the study of American history and his famous grandparents’ papers, an effort that would continue and that would make him the family’s archivist and editor.
These volumes offer manifold opportunities for an enlarged understanding of a complex and able man who was later to assume positions of high responsibility. In addition to furnishing innumerable personal and familial insights, this portion of the diary is of capital importance for the historian of society and culture. Probably no more detailed and faithful record exists of Boston life in the period.
The Adams Papers are edited at the Massachusetts Historical Society.