The Education of Henry Adams HTML version

Boston (1848-1854)
PETER CHARDON BROOKS, the other grandfather, died January 1, 1849, bequeathing
what was supposed to be the largest estate in Boston, about two million dollars, to his
seven surviving children: four sons -- Edward, Peter Chardon, Gorham, and Sydney;
three daughters -- Charlotte, married to Edward Everett; Ann, married to Nathaniel
Frothingham, minister of the First Church; and Abigail Brown, born April 25, 1808,
married September 3, 1829, to Charles Francis Adams, hardly a year older than herself.
Their first child, born in 1830, was a daughter, named Louisa Catherine, after her
Johnson grandmother; the second was a son, named John Quincy, after his President
grandfather; the third took his father's name, Charles Francis; while the fourth, being of
less account, was in a way given to his mother, who named him Henry Brooks, after a
favorite brother just lost. More followed, but these, being younger, had nothing to do with
the arduous process of educating.
The Adams connection was singularly small in Boston, but the family of Brooks was
singularly large and even brilliant, and almost wholly of clerical New England stock. One
might have sought long in much larger and older societies for three brothers-in-law more
distinguished or more scholarly than Edward Everett, Dr. Frothingham, and Mr. Adams.
One might have sought equally long for seven brothers-in-law more unlike. No doubt
they all bore more or less the stamp of Boston, or at least of Massachusetts Bay, but the
shades of difference amounted to contrasts. Mr. Everett belonged to Boston hardly more
than Mr. Adams. One of the most ambitious of Bostonians, he had broken bounds early in
life by leaving the Unitarian pulpit to take a seat in Congress where he had given valuable
support to J. Q. Adams's administration; support which, as a social consequence, led to
the marriage of the President's son, Charles Francis, with Mr. Everett's youngest sister-in-
law, Abigail Brooks. The wreck of parties which marked the reign of Andrew Jackson
had interfered with many promising careers, that of Edward Everett among the rest, but
he had risen with the Whig Party to power, had gone as Minister to England, and had
returned to America with the halo of a European reputation, and undisputed rank second
only to Daniel Webster as the orator and representative figure of Boston. The other
brother-in-law, Dr. Frothingham, belonged to the same clerical school, though in manner
rather the less clerical of the two. Neither of them had much in common with Mr. Adams,
who was a younger man, greatly biassed by his father, and by the inherited feud between
Quincy and State Street; but personal relations were friendly as far as a boy could see,
and the innumerable cousins went regularly to the First Church every Sunday in winter,
and slept through their uncle's sermons, without once thinking to ask what the sermons
were supposed to mean for them. For two hundred years the First Church had seen the
same little boys, sleeping more or less soundly under the same or similar conditions, and
dimly conscious of the same feuds; but the feuds had never ceased, and the boys had
always grown up to inherit them. Those of the generation of 1812 had mostly disappeared
in 1850; death had cleared that score; the quarrels of John Adams, and those of John
Quincy Adams were no longer acutely personal; the game was considered as drawn; and
Charles Francis Adams might then have taken his inherited rights of political leadership
in succession to Mr. Webster and Mr. Everett, his seniors. Between him and State Street