Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 25th. CFA Friday. 25th. CFA
Friday. 25th.

The day was warm but damp. I went to the Office as usual and was occupied in reading Williston, and the Speech of Mr. Ames upon the resolutions of Mr. Clay on the British Treaty. It is certainly a more powerful piece of eloquence than any I have yet read. Mr. Ames was a very able man, and left behind him a very strong feeling of admiration of his character among a circle of admirers here.1 But he became rather incorrect in his views during the latter part of his Life, being in ill health, and depressed circumstances. His mind was totally sound.

I also tried to form a Letter on the affairs of the Agency, a considerable portion of which was accomplished to my satisfaction. This was Christmas day and I reflected upon the probable condition of our family on that day. How will they spend the day this year, when those in place must feel in fear of seeing too much those who are out.2 At any rate, the day brings no particular feeling with it to me now as I 115am here settled without any associations of family to remind me of it’s return.

I read Aeschines all the afternoon excepting a short space of time devoted to Mitford, who provokes me beyond tolerance. I think his Book ought to be thrown into the Fire. How much mischief History philosophically written, to use a fashionable word of the present day, by a prejudiced man, will occasion. I was pleased with my pursuits and my mind felt that kind of self satisfaction which is eminently soothing. I read to Abby, in continuation of Clarissa Harlowe, which becomes more and more interesting at every step. It is a very pathetic Novel indeed. And very moral for it contains much which would do well to be thoroughly understood by every young Lady. I sat an hour afterwards writing more and more on my Essay but getting more and more dissatisfied.

1.

Fisher Ames (1758–1808), member of Congress from Massachusetts and a leading Federalist ( DAB ).

2.

The meaning is uncertain, but would seem to allude to GWA’s death during the year. In this context the sentence might be read: How will they spend the day this year, when those in place [i.e. living] must feel in fear of seeing too much [in their mind’s eye] those who are out [i.e. dead]?

Saturday. 26th. CFA Saturday. 26th. CFA
Saturday. 26th.

Morning Cloudy but not disagreeable. I went to the Office, and occupied myself in looking up the facts relative to the Affairs with the Indians as given to us by the Message of the President of the United States. And I could not help being struck with the flimsy network of it’s argument when I came to look into the thing—The Indian Treaties and the Controversy with Georgia.1 But I could not devote my whole morning to it, and therefore sat down to draw up my Letter of Accounts to my Father which I did so effectually as to conclude to make another. This is always my way. But my morning passed and as I had advised Abby to go out of town to day to see her Mother I went down myself to Mrs. Frothingham’s to dine. Found them at home as common and dined without any ceremony. From thence I went down to the Athenaeum and in a great measure wasted the Afternoon. This may often prove the case unless I guard against it by some means or other. I did however read a considerable portion of Captain Hall’s book upon America and was amused with it. I do not however agree with the notions taken by Mr. Everett of it.2 No American need be afraid of such a work. We have got beyond that stage of existence when the hasty opinions of any single Individual can produce any permanent effect. Our Institutions are taking a solidity which will 116make us look to ourselves more and abroad less. Captain Hall is on the whole entertaining. His prejudices and his candor, his English feeling with his parental one all combine to make one diverted with him on the whole. But the book is not intrinsically worth much. I left off to go to the Debating Society where there was a very considerable meeting. The discussion on the Bank was renewed and continued during the whole evening. I spoke unpremeditatedly and was not so well satisfied with myself. But we closed the subject very thoroughly.

1.

As part of the Yazoo lands settlement in 1802, Georgia ceded to the United States the territory west of the Chattahoochee river for a cash payment and a promise that the Indians remaining within the State would be removed. Partly deterred by treaties entered into with the Indian tribes, government policy on removal from Georgia and other states in the years since had been discontinuous. In his Message of 8 Dec., President Jackson gave a new emphasis to the question. By inference holding the Indian treaties invalid on the premise that by them the tribes had set up independent governments within the boundaries of sovereign states, he affirmed that this could not be countenanced, that the Indians should emigrate westward or, remaining, submit to the laws of the states without special privileges. He proposed the creation of territory beyond the Mississippi to be guaranteed to the tribes occupying it. In 1830 Congress would make Indian removal national policy, and within the decade the process would be carried to completion.

2.

Capt. Basil Hall, R.N., Travels in North America, in the Years 1827 and 1828, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1829. The book had been reviewed adversely in North Amer. Rev. , 29:522–574 (Oct. 1829), by Edward Everett, though not severely enough to satisfy JQA (Diary, 17 Dec.). On CFA’s encounter with Captain Hall, see vol. 2:169.