Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Thursday. 12th.

Saturday. 14th.

169 Friday. 13th. CFA Friday. 13th. CFA
Friday. 13th.

At an early hour I went out for the purpose of putting into the hands of Col. Merrick the answer which last night I brought with me. After considerable search I found him at the Hall of the House of Representatives. The Convention stood adjourned to the hour of half past nine o’clock. I waited and in the mean time conversed with many of the delegates whose names I did not know. The feeling seemed to be quite warm for the nomination, and the announcement of the acceptance was enthusiastic. Now the thing is done. For myself I feel perfectly indifferent as to the issue, and only desirous that there may be a graceful end to his public life whenever it may please Heaven to guide my father’s mind to that conclusion.

The Convention proceeded to nominate a Lieutenant Governor. And here another contest took place, the present incumbent Samuel T. Armstrong was supported by the greater number, but the stiffer party sustained Mr. William Reed of Marblehead. The objection to Armstrong arose from an expression in his letter to the State Committee dated two years since by which he questioned the right of making a political question of Antimasonry. It was a little curious to see the party who supported the nomination of Mr. Shaw yesterday without any public pledge, and quoting the authority of Mr. Webster whose course to the party has been any thing but explicit, now turning round zealously to insist upon a downright committal. Such is the inconsistency natural to the human mind. The difference was only settled by the passage of a resolution in fact pledging all candidates who accept nominations to the peculiar doctrines of the party, after which Mr. Armstrong was unanimously nominated. My own opinion was in favor of the nomination without any such resolution. It is peculiarly ungracious to threaten a man with a condition at the same time that you offer him a present. A Committee was sent to see him and in the afternoon he sent an answer natural enough in his circumstances but which fell into the error of want of decision. If he had Antimasonic opinions he should have expressed them, if not he should have positively declined the nomination. I think in his situation I would have written them a letter which would have made them tingle and feel ashamed. The Convention voted his answer unsatisfactory and proceeded to nominate Mr. Reed.1 I then left it.

Three days have passed in this business, my apprenticeship in political electioneering. The more I see of it the more I am satisfied of the inaptness of my peculiar character to this sort of thing. I cannot assent to the discipline or the doctrines of mere party. I love my independence 170of thinking and acting too well. At the same time however I must admit that in this Assembly I thought I saw an attachment to general principles very creditable even though it might be excessive, and less of the mere electioneering spirit of the day than I had anticipated. My own conduct has been throughout satisfactory to me. I have done my duty, and now dismiss the subject of politics from these pages.

In the evening, Sidney Brooks was here. My Wife was a little unwell.


Subsequently Reed also declined the nomination (Columbian Centinel, 18 Sept., p. 2, col. 3). The ultimate candidate was Samuel Lathrop.