Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Wednesday. 23d. CFA Wednesday. 23d. CFA
Wednesday. 23d.

Another cool and clear morning. I went to the Office and spent most of my time in writing a letter to my Mother in answer to a singular one received from her. She appears apprehensive of my father’s being drawn in with Mr. Van Buren and accordingly writes me in a tone of offended sensibility of certain grievances upon which she rests her great hostility to him.1 I have never inquired into the matter she refers to nor do I believe her information is very exact. I wish very 290heartily my poor brother had not been so apt to put arms in the hands of enemies by a kind of carriage which is too natural to our family.2 I say natural for I see it in my children already. I wrote a reply not disguising at all my opinions that some indiscretion on her part may ruin us all, even worse than we are now politically ruined.3 I expect nothing from Mr. Van Buren and his party beyond a support against the treachery of our pretended friends of the other side.

Late when I got home but read the remainder of the fifth Satire of Persius. Afternoon, continued the Letter to Mr. Slade. I have shortened and omitted from my first draft, but I am not sure that I cannot remodel what I leave for future use.

Evening read to my Wife from the Memoirs of the Duchess of Abrante’s until nine o’clock when we went off to a party at Mr. William Sturgis’s given by his daughter, to Mrs. Bryant, a bride and Wife to the son of her father’s partner in business. I had some scruples in going as I had a notion Mr. Sturgis was one of the pillars of the present Webster party, and might perhaps look coldly upon me. I experienced no such treatment however and subsequent inquiry led me to infer that I might have been misinformed. Be this as it may, I enjoyed myself quite well and returned home much more amused than I commonly am upon similar occasions.


CFA has either miswritten Van Buren for Jackson here or he had misread LCA’s letter. In it, LCA, animated by a desire to refute the rumor that JQA had visited President Jackson, recounts her abiding resentments against Jackson and asserts her determination to denounce any move by JQA toward reconciliation (LCA to CFA, 16 Dec.; she pursues the subject in her next letter to him, 27 Dec.; both letters in Adams Papers).


LCA traces her antipathy, “beyond all power of revocation,” to “Seven years of unremitted insult, the utter blast of the prospects of my children, the gross and scandalous attack upon my honour and the shameless persecution of that child by whom his mothers honour was defended.... I will never blast the memory of my Child for defending his Mothers fame nor will I put the seal to my own infamy by any connection with those who slandered me” (16 Dec.). The allusion is to JA2’s words and actions in defense of LCA against the calumnies against her given currency by Russell Jarvis and Duff Green, supposedly at Jackson’s instigation, and to the fierce counterattacks upon JA2. LCA, at the time, wrote an answer to all the allegations that had been bruited against her in a letter “To My Children,” 1 May 1828 (Adams Papers). The episode is recounted fully in S. F. Bemis, “The Scuffle in the Rotunda,” MHS, Procs. , 71 (1953–1957):156–166; see also Dangerfield, Era of Good Feelings , p. 419, 491.


CFA to LCA, 24 Dec. (Adams Papers):

“[B]etween the force of fixed prejudice on one side and that of mere interest on the other, it is not inadvisable occasionally to resort to one against the pressure of the other. One may be occasionally changed, the other is almost immoveable. To stand still and let both come down together upon one is neither the dictate of good policy or of any sound principle. I aspire to no such philosophy.”