Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Wednesday 30th. CFA Wednesday 30th. CFA
Wednesday 30th.

Fine. To town. Return to dine at the Mansion, where also Evening.

I went to town this morning and was taken up as usual with matters pertaining to the removal of my family to town which I now think we will delay until the middle of next week. Mr. Curtis called in about business of Mrs. Boylston’s Agency and Mr. W. T. Andrews on behalf of the nominating Committee of the Whig party to notify me of the selection of me as one of their candidates for the House of Representatives this year, and to inquire if I would accept. I was so situated as not to be able to give many minutes to reflection but the possibility of such an event had been in my mind within three or four years past and circumstances have rather conduced to strengthen me in the inclination long existing to decline the nomination.


The place is of little consequence, surrounded as it is with a host of colleagues, the year is one in which a multitude of little harrassing local questions will come up, to take sides about which is unavoidable and yet is throwing away a portion of influence that might be used to better purpose, and above all the Whig party now on it’s last legs in the State is endeavouring to enlist me as a soldier after I have fought my own way to reputation of some sort against it’s pressure when it was strong. I therefore declined verbally to Mr. Andrews, and as I was so situated as not to be able to explain the reasons I wrote him a short letter before leaving town.1 This is not done without deliberation. But inasmuch as it may have the effect of putting me out of political life forever I consider it of importance. Political life is not of itself at this time and in this country an object of reasonable desire so far as happiness is concerned. Nothing but a sense of duty to the public can conquer my sense of this truth, and inasmuch as that can be more effectively performed in my belief by my remaining a perfectly independent citizen than by taking such a situation I know of no principle in the way of pursuing my inclination. Thus much for this business but having so decided, it is incumbent upon me not to vacillate nor to fall into temptation. The whisperings of vanity or ambition should not be allowed to overbear the injunctions of wisdom and prudence. But I ought not to conceal my gratification at the nomination, for it very far removes from my mind an impression long entertained that injustice was done me by my fellow citizens in Boston against none of whom have I ever to my knowledge done any hostile act.

Return to dine but at my father’s, where I found that little Fanny was not so well. This is a distressing case enough.2 Evening there also, only reading a little of Menzel in the interval. Mrs. T. B. Adams came down on a business also of a distressing kind,3 so that my spirits were under something of a weight.


To William T. Andrews, LbC, Adams Papers.


See entry for 2 Nov., below.


She had that day been advised to undergo surgery for cancer (JQA, Diary).

Thursday 31st. CFA Thursday 31st. CFA
Thursday 31st.

Chilly with clouds. At home. Evening at the Mansion.

I was at home all day but was unable to make the progress in writing which I expected because of some little transplanting left to do. As the season is now nearly over, I thought it as well to finish off with the remaining trees which have been taken up, although I had no place 318left very favorable to put them in. This over which took nearly all day I had no time left for any thing else so that my article for Hunt’s Magazine appears not likely to be ready.

Evening at my father’s. He had been to town and dined at Lieutt. Govr. Winthrop’s. He had learned there the fact of my refusal of yesterday and as he says of the appointment of a Committee to wait upon me and urge my acceptance. I. P. Davis and R. C. Winthrop had both spoken to him of it with regret and had requested of him to use his influence with me to withdraw it, which he seemed a little inclined to do. I stated my reasons very simply to which he made no reply. This is rather a flattering circumstance to me who have not been heretofore used to any complimentary excesses, and perhaps this little will turn my head. I however see no reason to shake my confidence in the justice of my determination.