Adams Family, The Past is a Foreign...Something

You Ain’t No Phrend of Mine

Or, Phrenology Is Silly


At least, so John Quincy Adams, age 74, told his diary on Thursday, October 14, 1841:

Mr. Clother Gifford came to me, as a phrenologist, and proposed to give my head a scientific phrenological examination, which I declined; regarding the whole pretended science as a mischievous humbug, with all the evil tendencies of fortune telling – I did not say so to Mr. Gifford, but merely declined submitting my head to his examination.”

John Quincy Adams diary 41, p. 494 [electronic edition]. The Diaries of John Quincy Adams: A Digital Collection (Boston, Mass. : Massachusetts Historical Society, 2004),

Image citation:
Gaetan Lee, “Phrenology Heads,” Flickr, CC License

The Past is a Foreign...Something

Paging Dr. Mesmer, Dr. Mesmer, Line One

Part 1 of an infinite series

Stephen H. Branch to John C. Calhoun, New York City, February 8, 1844

My Dear Sir:

I am studying Mnemo-Phrenotechny, or the art of acquiring memory, with every possible facility afforded me for its most critical mastery. Men of science say that it is the most wonderful and useful discovery of the age. If convenient, I purpose [sic] coming to Carolina’s genial and friendly skies to impart it to yourself and children as a slight testimonial of my regard for you. I am happiest when tendering my sincerest homage to distinguished integrity and genius. I love to sacrifice at virtue’s hallowed shrine. Palsied, indeed, be my humanity when I cease to cherish the immortal patriots and god-like intellects of my country. I know you will be highly pleased with this new science, you are so alive to all that glorifies the mind.

I remain, with profound respect,

S. H. Branch”

The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Clyde N. Wilson, ed. (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1986), XVII:774.

Image Credit: malavoda, “Hypnosis,” Flickr, CC License