Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

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.

Friday. 12th. CFA Friday. 12th. CFA
Friday. 12th.

Morning clear and very pleasant. I went to the Office and passed my time in Accounts and making up my Diary as usual. Nothing extraordinary excepting that the news relating to the French business grows more favorable. My time passes just as fast. Mr. Walsh came in and talked it over so that I had very little leisure. Walk and home to read Livy which is one of my greatest enjoyments.

We were asked to dine today at Mr. Brooks’—A family party. Mr. and Mrs. Everett, Mr. Frothingham and my Wife and self. Pleasant time enough. We avoid politics now by general understanding and this is by far the best way. Mr. Everett seems to be in better spirits than he has been but I confess I see not on what ground. His case is very near desperate. Home at six after which I finished reading to my Wife the second volume of Madame Junot.

Saturday. 13th. CFA Saturday. 13th. CFA
Saturday. 13th.

Clouds and snow although mild. I went to the Office. Accounts from France of the reception of the President’s Message quite favorable. I was engaged in bringing up my Diary which suffers mortally from Arrears. I wonder if I cannot devise some means to become more of an automaton. Walk to the Athenaeum to get a book and then home.

Livy. The extraordinary nature if I may so say of all his narratives clearly manifest that they are founded in fact. The Romans present a great study to the politician and I mean to avail myself of it. My political career is not commenced under auspices the most bright and it may terminate at a moment’s warning, but at any rate I will seek to put upon some resting place more solid than the mere momentary breeze. I will fit myself for my calling as well as I can.


Afternoon continued the letters of Dr. Rush. I see in him some of the features his son has inherited—And the democratic tendencies are very distinct. There is a distinguishing line in this Country—The money and property, and the love of fame, of power and glory. Evening, read to my Wife from Japhet in search of his father, one of Capt. Marryatt’s books.1


Frederick Marryat’s Japhet in Search of a Father, which would be published in 3 vols. later in the year, was appearing serially in the Metropolitan Magazine; see entry for 18 Feb., below.