Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

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.”

Thursday. 28th. CFA Thursday. 28th. CFA
Thursday. 28th.

Morning quite cool but clear. I went to the Office as usual. The whole bitterness of the party press is again aroused against my father. Well, we must go through our portions in this life. Time occupied as usual. I this morning transferred my Deposits to the Merchants’ Bank, having had pleasant and quiet dealings with the branch here for so many years. I have asked no favors and met with no preferences. And I am disgusted at the prejudices of others which are so gross and ignorant. I have gone to the Merchants’ Bank partly because I may hereafter be accommodated by it in regard to transmitting money to Washington and partly because I am at present myself a Stockholder there. It is the deposit Bank of the Government and is thus enabled to act in connection with other banks more decidedly. But things looked new and uncomfortable here. Accounts, then walk.

Called to see Mr. Hallett and found him in. He conversed upon the subject of these resolutions to be presented tomorrow night. Mr. B. V. French came in and urged me to attend and speak. He intimated that the party thought I kept back too much, and I clearly saw from the tone of both that there was in their thoughts an idea of want of moral courage. I stated my reasons but they did not seem to answer. I then left them, with the promise that I would reflect and decide upon what was fit for me to do. I did reflect and came to the conclusion that I would prepare myself. In consequence the remainder of the day was passed in reflecting and arranging a train of thought. Evening, read Gil Blas to my Wife.

Friday. 29th. CFA Friday. 29th. CFA
Friday. 29th.

Quite cold. Office as usual. I was occupied in drawing a sketch of my proposed remarks to digest and fix which in my memory took me 319all day. It is something, this taking the leap and first impressions go a great way. Called to see Mr. Hallett and get a sight of his resolutions previous to attending the meeting. They run entirely in the current of my contemplated course and are evidently based upon the course I have all along shaped out to the party. I told Mr. Hallett of my determination to go and speak if I could get the courage. He spoke of it as the wish of the Committee that I should which he had been charged to communicate, but I thought he did not in fact seem much delighted with the idea. I said nothing and went home.

Having prepared myself, and accompanied my Wife to Mr. Frothingham’s where I left her, I went to the meeting. It was very full. I saw Mr. Hallett but he barely recognized me and passed on. I sat down next to Mr. French but found his ardor prodigiously cooled. He advised me to wait and see how things went. They were fearful of opposition as some of the Webster men had been drilling troops, and therefore they wanted me as a reserve. My own judgment was against my proceeding provided they did not mistake my motives, so I was glad to rest. Mr. Thomas of Plymouth reported the resolutions which were rather too numerous. He opened the debate and was followed by Amasa Walker in a very bad speech. Mr. Whitmarsh who spoke well and Hallett himself who is evidently the favorite and did very well. Upon his closing I offered to rise but Mr. French thought things looked very well and there was no occasion. In fact Mr. Clough’s opposition was very well calculated to defeat all serious continuance. The meeting closed by a vote which was very unanimous.

After it was all over, Mr. Whitney came and regretted I had not spoken. I told him exactly how the case stood. On the whole, upon reflection I think I adopted the prudent course. I showed myself on the spot ready to speak and yet avoided it without any appearance of shrinking. The party will in time discover that when they want me they will have me. And I must wait the time. I called for my Wife and home. Passed an hour in reflection upon my situation.