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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 6: January 1833 – June 1836

Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 6: January 1833 – June 1836

Charles Francis Adams

Edited by L. H. Butterfield and Marc Friedlaender

ISBN 9780674204027

Publication date: 01/01/1974

A man’s twenty-seventh year is “critical,” according to Charles Francis Adams. And so his proved to be. Twenty-five at the start of these volumes, Adams had yet to embark on the public career that would mark him a statesman, but by their conclusion he had been drawn into the maelstrom of politics. It was an unwilling plunge, dictated by what both he and his father, John Quincy Adams, regarded as betrayal of the elder Adams by Daniel Webster and his Whigs. Once in, however, he showed himself politically adept.

This diary, kept from January 1833 to June 1836 and hitherto unpublished, has elements of hidden personal drama. Through private meetings and caucuses and newspaper articles signed with pseudonyms, the younger Adams found effective means to carry on political activities in the face of dilemmas posed by his father’s public prominence, his father-in-law’s contrary persuasions, and his own preferences. He emerged with growing self-respect and solid accomplishment as political journalist—his initial vocation.

The diary has fresh disclosures also about the personality of John Quincy Adams, shrewdly assessed by an observer uniquely placed to interpret domestic scenes as well as the greatly waged struggles in Washington against the Southern “slaveocracy” and “gag rules.”

Colorful figures in Boston’s political and social life are finely etched in outspoken appraisals characteristic of the Adamses. The diarist shows acuteness too in comments on books, sermons, paintings, the theater, and opera.


  • It is no attack upon these volumes to observe that the data they provide is rather low-keyed. But it is precisely because of the relatively quiet world the Diary portrays that another, perhaps equally important question is raised. It is the question of the Diary form - the peculiar aesthetic power which resides in the well-made journal. In this case, undistracted by the glitter of major historical events or novelistic renditions of personal crisis, the reader finds himself able to focus on the central experience of absorbing, entry by entry, the daily chronicle of a mans life.

    —Robert F. Lucid, The New England Quarterly


  • L. H. Butterfield was editor in chief of The Adams Papers.
  • Marc Friedlaender is Associate Editor of the Adams Papers.

Book Details

  • 942 pages
  • 6-3/4 x 10 inches
  • Belknap Press

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