Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Tuesday. 26th. CFA Tuesday. 26th. CFA
Tuesday. 26th.

A fine and pleasant day. I went to the Office as usual. Accounts from Washington of a Speech of my father’s which is likely to make a great deal of noise. The substance of it relates to the loss of the fortification bill of last year and to Mr. Webster’s late justification of himself respecting it.1 My father’s feelings against Mr. Webster are now so strong as very much to take the place of those he has heretofore 317held against Mr. Otis and the Administration. I regret them because I regret all personal collision, and still more the relations in which these things place me here in Boston. It is plain to me that after the session of Congress is over, it will be better for me to reside out of the town for a year or more. The canvass for the Presidency will disturb private feeling very much.

I wrote Diary and so forth, called in to see if I could find Mr. Hallett and had some conversation with Mr. B. V. French. The Antimasons are going on very extravagantly at Harrisburgh.

Walk so that I did not get home in time for Livy. Dined at Mr. Brooks’ with my Wife and Edward. Pleasant enough. Nothing new. Evening at home, read Gil Blas. My little girl is still drooping. German.


On 22 Jan. in the House, JQA had spoken for three hours in support of the Resolution he offered to appoint a select Committee “to enquire and report the causes of the failure” of the Fortification Bill to pass the Congress in the preceding session (JQA, Diary, 22 Jan.; National Intelligencer, 23 Jan., p. 3, col, 5; Jan., p. 3, col, 2; 1 Feb. [the text], p. 2, col. 5 — p. 3, col. 4). The text of Webster’s speech in the Senate justifying his course on the Fortification Bill was printed in the Columbian Centinel, 23 Jan., p. 2, cols. 1—3; 25 Jan., p. 1, col. 5 – p. 2, col. 2.

Wednesday. 27th. CFA Wednesday. 27th. CFA
Wednesday. 27th.

Cool but a pleasant day. I went to the Office as usual. The papers are full of my father’s Speech, the Whigs of course very indignant indeed. There was a little something rather out of form in the Speech which I regret but there is no taking the Newspaper account of what he says. The sarcasm upon Mr. Webster is so keen that his party here will feel it very deeply and it makes my position still more and more unpleasant. I wrote a letter to my Mother in consequence which perhaps was not prudent.1 She will show it to my father and the effect it may have upon him I do not know.

Accounts. Diary. Walk—Nothing of importance. Livy. Afternoon, the letters and papers of Dr. Franklin nearly all of which I finished. Mr. T. K. Davis came in the evening and we had a comfortable talk, not much however that was new. He stays a little too long, for regular people.


In his letter to his mother (Adams Papers), CFA reflected that JQA’s open attack upon Webster “in terms of extraordinary severity” would produce in Boston

“a crisis which I have been for a long time anticipating, I will also add somewhat dreading.” In a situation in which the lines would be openly drawn, he continued, “considering the very ungenerous course pursued towards my father, I cannot say that this state of things is easily evitable, and the rela-318tions with foreign nations seem to be such as to be likely to prevent an escape in that direction even if I could induce myself to adopt that alternative. I am neither in a disposition nor in a convenient situation with so many small children to leave America, and yet I do not know that I would not do it rather than live in such perpetual hot water and personal hatred of half mankind. Politics are intensely disgusting to me and nothing but a sense of position has ever led me to adopt them.... [H]aving both [name and fortune] and being blessed with extraordinary abundance of the favours of this world, I seem in some measure destined to encounter in the place of my birth the deadly coldness of hereditary prejudice and rancour. I do not repine for that would be most ungrateful, but I must be permitted to regret. My nature is neither cold nor bitter but when one lives among men who are suspected of concealing bad feeling merely from courtesy, one is apt without great care to become habituated to both.”