Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 19th.

Sunday. 21st.

Saturday 20th. CFA Saturday 20th. CFA
Saturday 20th.

Morning hazy but soon changed to a clear sun and a lovely day. I went to the Office as usual and passed my time much as usual, first reading Mr. Hayne’s Speech upon the Western Lands, a bitter Phillipic upon the course of the Eastern States. The truth is that the course of these States during the War was and is totally indefensible and it is a weak point to touch, but still it is not generous to touch so often the subject. The people here have came to their senses and punished the Authors of those measures by removing them from public life. And 168the other States ought to accept of this as sufficient without pushing farther.1

I went to see Mr. Brooks but found his Office closed which led me to conclude that the closing scene was rapidly approaching. I then passed the remainder of the morning in reading Mr. McDuffie’s Speech upon the Amending the Constitution as to the election of President.2 It is a better Speech than I thought, though too long and not sufficiently laboured. Returning home I found Abby had received a letter from Medford intimating that her Mother might not live through the day. She was of course very much affected. After dinner I read Demosthenes as usual. My first Article upon Eloquence was published this morning but so obscurely placed that I do not think it has justice done to it.3 Miss Julia Gorham came in to pass the Evening so that I went out and attended an unusually full meeting of the Debating Society. The discussion upon the Militia was renewed but not carried on with vigor, as none of the warmest Members joined in it. But the question approaching to a decision, I waited till the close and found that my side of it prevailed, after which I went rapidly home.

1.

CFA was reading the newspaper reports on the great debate on public-land policy in the United States Senate during Jan.–Feb. 1830. The protagonists were Daniel Webster, who had shifted with New England from a narrow to a broad construction of the Constitution, and Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina, who made the most of the threat of federal “consolidation” and the near-treasonable course of New England leaders in opposing the War of 1812. Hayne’s speech opening the debate had been printed in the Columbian Centinel, 6 Feb., p. 1, cols. 2–5; his rejoinder to Webster appeared in the issue for 20 Feb., p. 2, cols. 2–5. Publication of Webster’s speech followed; see below, entries for 27 Feb., 3 March.

2.

George McDuffie’s speech delivered in the House, Feb. 1826, is in Williston’s Eloquence at 4:97–152. See below, entry for 2 March and note.

3.

Massachusetts Journal, 20 Feb., p. 1, cols. 3–4. The communication appears under the rubric “Literary,” bears the heading “No. 1,” and is signed “Orator.”