Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Friday. 11th.

Sunday. 13th.

Saturday. 12th. CFA Saturday. 12th. CFA
Saturday. 12th.

A very lovely and very warm day. I could not keep much at the Office. Mr. William Spear came in from Quincy and paid me a sum of money on his Note, the counting and entering which took up much time. The present disordered state of the currency is one of the beauties of Jackson’s rule, and its inconvenience is now practically felt by the increasing demands of the brokers. The public is now exceedingly interested in the results of the New York election which has been going on for three days in this week. It has been made a test by both parties, although the mere choice of Mayor is not a political question of much moment. The whole place has been given up to the most violent excitement, and bloodshed has taken place.1 It is the first instance of popular violence we have had, but I very much fear, not the last, we shall see in our generation. My faith in a democratic government is becoming weaker.

Miss Louisa C. Smith dined and spent the day with us. I read the Arabian Nights and Cicero’s fifth Tusculan. Evening, did nothing. German.

1.

For the first time the mayor of New York was to be elected directly by popular vote rather than by vote of the Council. While the Whig candidate, Thomas Verplanck, was narrowly defeated by the Democrat, Cornelius Laurence, because the Whigs elected a majority of the Council the results were interpreted in Boston as a Whig victory.

The riots and bloodshed centered in New York’s 6th Ward where more than a hundred “infuriated wretches,” said to be Jacksonians, stormed the anti-Jackson headquarters. “A great number of respectable citizens were knocked down and cut in a shocking manner. For a considerable time the polls were in possession of the rioters.” (Columbian Centinel, 11 April, p. 2, col. 2; 12 April, p. 2, cols. 3–6; 14 April, p. 1, cols. 6– 7; 16 April, p. 2, cols. 2–3.)