Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Tuesday 10th. CFA Tuesday 10th. CFA
Tuesday 10th.

Wet but it cleared. Went to Quincy where it looked full cheerless. The workmen were however all very busy in their occupations and I felt a little ray of prospect ahead of land. This house has been a burden upon me, undertaken in such disastrous times, but I am now upon the last of the heavy draughts. Home.

Much sensation created by a letter of Mr. Biddle’s announcing his determination to decline specie payments whatever the New York banks may do. It has satisfied me of the impolicy of leaning much upon him.1 I regret to be obliged to withdraw my confidence from him 22but I cannot help it. My disposition is to answer it, but where is the medium.

Afternoon continued work upon the coins. Evening T. K. Davis here. Conversation upon the general theory of our Institutions as usual. Not much gained from speculations of this kind.

1.

For a discussion of CFA’s position on currency questions, including payments in specie, see Duberman, CFA , p. 58–59.

Wednesday 11th. CFA Wednesday 11th. CFA
Wednesday 11th.

Morning rainy and continued so all day. I went out to make purchases for Quincy and was detained in this until late so that I had very little time after I reached the Office to do much work. Calls from various tenants but no letters from Washington. The New York Banks seem determined to begin the work of resumption notwithstanding the resistance of Mr. Biddle. On the other hand, there seem to be indications of breaking in the Administration party. Mr. Hamer of Ohio has made a step which may or may not lead to consequences. Both parties appear excessively embarrassed.1 And in the mean time the country suffers. Home late. Afternoon coins. Evening at home reading that melancholy volume of Walter Scott.

1.

Thomas Lyon Hamer, U.S. representative from Ohio and a Democrat, had announced to the House that considering that “the business, commerce, circulation, and exchanges ... are in a deranged and embarrassed condition; and considering, also, that a part of the Bank of the United States have expressed a desire to resume specie payments at an early period,” he intended to introduce a resolution “That if the banks, or a portion of them, do thus resume it will be the duty of the General Government ... to aid such banks ... in regaining public confidence, and to sustain them in their laudable efforts to fulfil their obligations ... to restore to the people a sound circulating medium.” In the same issue, the Administration paper carried an editorial of “authorized” explanation that there was no intent on the part of the mover to indicate any change of position, nor any intent of the “party in power” to be hostile to such action if taken by banks or to throw “unnecessary obstacles in their way.” Further explanations were offered, when the resolution was introduced, that there was no intent to attack Administration policy nor to embarrass it (Washington Globe, 7 April, p. 3, cols. 3, 5; 9 April, p. 2, col. 7 - p. 3, col. 1).

Thursday 12th. CFA Thursday 12th. CFA
Thursday 12th.

Morning clear but cold with Easterly wind. I was occupied much of my time in little details of various kinds which are consuming without being profitable. I fatigued myself too in my various walkings to and fro. Met T. W. Ward who spoke to me about my Pamphlet and who insinuated a wish that I should answer Mr. Biddle’s last letter. But I have no time. I plead guilty to indolence, and I have no medium.

23

Met T. K. Davis and walked with him. Home to dinner, after which Davis again met me and we went to Quincy. Visit shortened by an accident which delayed me on the road, but I gave the necessary directions and then we returned. The weather quite raw and unpleasant for riding. After tea, too much fatigued to do much of any work, and retired early for me.