Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Wednesday. 10th. CFA Wednesday. 10th. CFA
Wednesday. 10th.

Morning very fine. I went to the Office, but from defect in the quality of my fuel I make my stay at the Office even more brief than usual. My Diary gets into almost inevitable arrears, and I am at present so interested in observing the course of the political affairs of the Country that it takes me an hour of every morning to look over the 329Newspapers. Then a walk with the various little trifles that are to be attended to and Livy consume the rest of my time.

Called at the Office of the Advocate. Conversation with the Editor about the state of the present question. He is satisfied with my number and only objects to one passage which he has taken the liberty to change the wording of. These are liberties I do not like when I am in any degree responsible for my writing. I therefore altered the principal point over again. Mr. Hallett is rather over sensitive as it respects the degree of merit the Antimasons are to claim from their course. I am for making it tolerably small by putting it on the ground of negative preference. He is for going still further and making it positive. Perhaps there is a real difference of feeling at bottom. His main ground of objection was however that the words might be turned so as to have a construction that the party had been dragooned by its leaders into its present course without itself being consulted. As this was plausible, I altered the phraseology which might bear that forced construction, all the time saving my own.

I cannot get it out of my head that Mr. Hallett is not sincere towards me, and is embarrassed by my increasing influence in his own ranks. But I must take care how I show him that. My course is one which nothing but my undeviating pursuance of one track marked out for me can execute.

Home. Afternoon, began arranging the papers of Dr. Rush, which I propose to have bound although I do not regard the substance in them as very valuable. Dr. Rush was a man of singular opinions. He had no confidence in General Washington and thought Greek and Latin an evil in Education. Evening out with my Wife. We called upon Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Quincy Jr. and found them not at home. Then went in to see Mr. and Mrs. E. Miller. Cards and a little champagne consumed the time. Home at ten.

Thursday. 11th. CFA Thursday. 11th. CFA
Thursday. 11th.

Fine day. Office as usual. My number 5 to Mr. Slade came out this morning. As usual long on the road but good when it gets there. I think it a piece of superior writing.

I was engaged in bringing up Diary when Mr. B. V. French came in. He said he had been requested to call upon me to know whether I would not come forward and make a speech at a Meeting of all parties uniting in Mr. Van Buren as a common point, at Faneuil Hall, next week. I explained to him frankly all my difficulties. I had anticipated 330a possibility of this request when I saw the notice in the Newspaper. He admitted their solidity but said he did not like to report them. This meeting had been gotten up in a quarter he did not much admire and was supported for purposes which he disapproved. He was anxious to take it out of their hands and put it in a better place. Mr. I. W. James with his father in law Ralph Huntington and the set which are known here as working men, radical reformers or in the cant slang of the day Loco focos,1 were working to appear the genuine party to the exclusion of the Post party or Custom house party against whom they entertain a feud growing out of a division of spoils. To this effect they pounce upon the new acquisition of Antimasons and work upon some who love to appear as Chairmen of public meetings &ca. to go with them and get up a meeting exclusive enough to drive away all but themselves as actors in the business. Dr. Phelps is of this number. Mr. French therefore desired me to assign no reasons which could give a pretext to them for exclusive management, but rather to put myself upon others which I had assigned on a physical account, the unwillingness to risk my voice in Faneuil Hall, and above all to attend the meeting with the Committee for the sake of appearing and taking a part in the proceeding. This was to take place tonight at 7. o’clock and I agreed to be present.

Walk and Livy. Elizabeth C. Adams and Louisa C. Smith dined with us and spent the day. Nothing new. Afternoon, I tried to do something in the way of an Address but did not succeed. After tea I went down to the Advocate Office and found myself first there. Presently came in Dr. Phelps, Mr. Huntington and Mr. James. I saw how this was. Mr. Whitmarsh, and Mr. Whitney, Messrs. Hallett and Thomas with Mr. French of the Antimasons, while Mr. Rantoul, and some other Jackson men were there. Among others a Mr. Caldwell of Ipswich who appeared to have come as an observer of the course the proceedings were about to take.

After discussing the persons who were to take a part, I took the opportunity of an interval to announce my determination not to speak on account of the difficulty of a first attempt with my voice in Faneuil Hall, and then I strongly recommended the calling upon two or three persons not before mentioned of the old Jackson party and the making up the Speakers of the best known speakers of both sides. This advice was received in silence. But I saw there were persons enough present to take it’s value, and I perceived that it settled in Mr. Caldwell’s mind the nature of the report he intimated he was sent to make up by other members of the Legislature. The reception I met with personally was 331respectful but distant. Dr. Phelps slunk from the meeting upon seeing his Presidentship vanish from his grasp, and Mr. James preserved a profound silence. I hope my course has put an end to that machination. I must do Mr. Hallett the justice to say that he appeared to understand and disapprove it as much as I. Our course is now quite surrounded with difficulties. Home, but too late for my company which was just leaving.


See the exhaustive discussion of the term in Hans Sperber and Travis Trittschuh, American Political Terms, Detroit, 1962, p. 245–247.