Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Wednesday. 11th.

Friday. 13th.

Thursday. 12th. CFA Thursday. 12th. CFA
Thursday. 12th.

Fine clear morning. I went to the Caucus which was called to consult upon a candidate for Governor, immediately after breakfast. It sat from eight o’clock until one and was at times agitated pretty violently. The parties appeared to me about equally divided between Mr. Lathrop and Mr. Shaw, of Lanesboro—The former being the 168favourite of the old school, the latter sustained by the young men, more particularly those from the interior Counties. I thought I saw plainly a great jealousy of the State Committee which is located in Boston and which has for the most part dictated to the Country party. Things were fast tending to a division when a private current was set in motion in favour of the nomination of my father which very soon took the place of every other sentiment, and I left the Hall to start for Quincy and announce to him the state of the case previous to the arrival of the Committee who were to announce it.

I arrived just at dinner time. Found him looking extremely unwell and recovering from a very severe attack. I stated the matter to him and after consideration he seemed disposed to adhere to his resolution to decline. The Committee consisting of Col. Pliny Merrick, of Worcester, Mr. H. Gassett of Boston and Mr. Whitmarsh from Bristol County came out and brought such resolutions as put a new face upon the matter. He seemed much agitated but deferred giving any positive opinion until ten o’clock tomorrow morning. They accordingly withdrew. He did not however remain long in suspense. The appeal was so direct to him as an individual and to the principles which he has been always supporting, that he could not withstand it. He wrote a brief answer which I brought with me.1

It rained lightly much of the afternoon. I got home soon after six and spent a perfectly quiet evening.

1.

The resolution of the “State Antimasonic Convention for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, In Convention at Boston Sept. 12, 1833,” together with a retained copy of JQA’s reply of the same day, in CFA’s hand, are in the Adams Papers. The resolution was couched in terms best calculated to break JQA’s defenses: “We recognize as a sound republican principle, which ought to govern nominations and acceptances of nominations for office, that in a free Government, no citizen, standing prominent for public service, is at liberty to reject a nomination upon personal considerations, alone, when tendered to him by a large body of his fellow citizens, acting as a party, whose principles he approves, especially where the citizen so nominated is best qualified to concentrate public sentiment, in favor of those principles, and to heal the divisions of party.... Relying upon the patriotism of John Quincy Adams, as evinced, through a long life devoted to the advancement of truth, and the best interests, of our Free Institutions, regardless of mere popularity; and having the utmost confidence, in his eminent abilities, and sound principles, his uniform regard for public policy, rather than personal politics, the Antimasonic Convention, do Unanimously tender to him their nomination ... and ask his acceptance of the same, as a personal sacrifice on his part, required by the existing State of parties, in this Commonwealth and the Union.” JQA’s reply was in kind, and he recorded in his journal under the same date: “I had done every thing in my power to prevent this nomination, which is an exceedingly unwelcome movement to me: but it was placed upon grounds which left me no honourable option of declining.... I accept the nomination, which casts me again upon the stormy ocean of political electioneering when I hoped and believed I was snug in the Port. If there be a fatality that pursues me, there is a Power above by whom it is guided.”