Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Monday. 6th. CFA Monday. 6th. CFA
Monday. 6th.

This is the Anniversary commonly called here Artillery Election. It is usually a warm showery day, not so this year it being a continuation of all former weather. I went to the Office. Read my father’s Speech in the Intelligencer which is very admirable.1 I am horrified also by a vote of Mr. Van Buren’s upon the bill to suppress incendiary publications. It led me to reflect what a miserable thing it was to depend upon a man without settled principles. But we can do nothing at present. Our course is marked out for us. A time may come for retribution. I hope it will. Judge White did no better than Mr. Van Buren, and there is no relief in looking round the compass.2

Accounts, Diary and a call from Mr. Walsh, then to see Mr. Brooks for a minute and home. Livy. Afternoon, assorting papers. Went over part of a correspondence between my grandfather and Edmund Jennings during which I was interrupted by a call from Mr. Hallett. He is in great agony about this vote, says it destroys Van Buren’s prospects in Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Ohio, and puts himself in a predicament not pleasant. He read to me a sketch of an editorial article which he proposed to insert upon it. It condemns the vote very gently and then goes on to offensive ground against the Atlas.3 I told him very frankly my opinions and my feelings. I did not approve the vote and could only sanction my continuing to support 405Mr. Van Buren by thinking of the alternatives. Evening at home, read the Drapier, and Ariosto.


See above, entry for 30 May, note.


A bill against “incendiary,” i.e. antislavery, publications “prohibiting deputy postmasters from receiving or transmitting through the mail to any State, Territory, or District, certain papers ... the circulation of which, by the laws of said State &c. may be prohibited” had been under debate in the Senate since early April. On 2 June consideration had reached the point of a vote on engrossment. In that vote, 18, including White, had voted yes and 18, including Webster, had voted no. Vice President Van Buren taking the chair and voting yes, the bill was ordered engrossed. Actually, the bill would be defeated in the final vote on passage, 19 to 25, with Van Buren not participating (National Intelligencer, 3 June, p. 2, cols. 5–6; 9 June, p. 3, col. 2. See also Congressional Globe , 24th Cong., 1st sess., App., p. 437–442).


Hallett’s editorial directed against the Atlas, entitled “The Party of Expediency,” would appear in the Advocate on the 8th (p. 2, cols. 2–3). In it, regret is expressed at Van Buren’s vote on the Incendiary Publications Bill, calling it “the most anti-republican of any vote Mr. Van Buren ever gave”; but at the same time the Whig press is chided for its sudden sympathy for abolitionism in opposing Van Buren’s position.

Tuesday. 7th. CFA Tuesday. 7th. CFA
Tuesday. 7th.

Morning cloudy as usual. This is the seventeenth day of perpetual North east winds and clouds. I went to the Office and passed my time in Diary and Accounts. Nothing of particular consequence.

My father’s speech is producing a very great effect upon the Community. It is singular how he continues to sustain himself by the force of his mere ability. Conversation with Mr. Everett upon the subject who evidently feels uneasy under the present condition of things. He as usual underrates the character of Mr. Van Buren’s vote. I do not quite like his principles, but we must at any rate go on.

Received a letter from my father returning to me the Note for which I sent.1 This makes my contemplated Journey probable. My bank subscription has heretofore rendered the possibility of raising money somewhat doubtful.

Athenaeum, then home to read Livy. In the afternoon finished the Volume containing the Correspondence with Jennings. This makes fifteen volumes I have done.2 Read a canto of Ariosto, and sat down to write an article upon Slavery. Found the subject grew prodigiously under my hand. It kept me up quite late.


4 June (Adams Papers).


That is, arranged and prepared for binding.

Wednesday. 8th. CFA Wednesday. 8th. CFA
Wednesday. 8th.

The morning was cloudy with heavy fogs. Mr. Walsh however came up to breakfast and decided me to go to Quincy. It was not a 406good day for our purpose and when we got there and went upon the hill, we could form no idea of the prospect, but Mr. Walsh opined in favour of the upper side of the road and this agrees with my own inclinations.

I did business both with Mr. Carr and Mr. Brigham and received the money I had expected, then returned. The day cleared as we arrived at Boston. This has been the most long continued and driest storm which I have ever known. It has wearied our patience although I thank heaven it has had little or no effect upon my spirits.

Home. Afternoon, writing. I am making a very good article upon Slavery although I expect to have difficulty in publishing it. Worked on it afternoon and evening. I have rarely written with more facility.