Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Wednesday. 9th. CFA Wednesday. 9th. CFA
Wednesday. 9th.

Continued cold and raw weather. T. K. Davis came in and sat for an hour talking of his various conferences with individuals. I am satisfied that the whole party which goes under the name of conservative is waiting to see whether Mr. Van Buren will not be forced from his present position and obliged to take theirs. I advised Davis of the opinions held by my father, and stated very freely my own. As at present advised, I saw nothing to authorize me to vary from my preceding course.

We then walked to the Capitol, calling on the way to see Govr. Dickerson and Mr. Legaré. We found the latter at home and had a pleasant visit. He is a dashing talker, with many new ideas, but rather brilliant than solid.1 Out of an allusion to slavery made by Davis there 39grew a discussion between us which lasted until we reached the Capitol.

They were engaged in the ceremonial of the funeral of the member.2 After it was over, we returned and I dropped in to see Indian Gallery of Mr. Catlin. This is a collection of Portraits of various American Indians of different tribes, and pictures illustrative of their principal ceremonies as well as landscapes. There are also various articles of dress &c. which Catlin has collected in his personal travels. The whole is curious as a specimen of one great branch of man, but Indians after all are but Indians. They represent the first stages of civilization which are by no means, properly considered, the most interesting.3

Home to dinner. Evening, a small party by invitation of Mrs. Gilpin. Principally members of the Administration party and the Corps diplomatique. Very dull. Home, and to bed quite fatigued.

1.

Hugh Swinton Legaré, as well as representing South Carolina in the Congress, was a founder and editor of the Southern Review in Charleston ( DAB ).

2.

A broadside of the order of service for Representative Joab Lawler of Ala. is in the Adams Papers.

3.

After his visit to the “Wigwam,” JQA wrote: “The Portraits have no merit as works of art. The War dances and Council fires are caricatures of disgusting nature. The views on the Missouri river from 1200 to 1900 miles above St. Louis are very indifferent landscapes, and the buffaloes hunted by wolves are not comparable to Snyder’s Boar hunting. The collection is perhaps valuable as unique” (Diary, 4 May).

Thursday 10th. CFA Thursday 10th. CFA
Thursday 10th.

Cool morning. Mr. Frye came in and asked me to accompany him to see the Mill property of my father, so we walked there. A pretty spot situated upon a narrow creek, but the property wretchedly out of repair. The dam which had been carried away is now repairing in a thorough manner, but it would hardly seem worth while to attempt it. Complaints on the part of the Miller of encroachments, on all sides. My father is a wretched provider of his own affairs.1

I returned home and then went in the carriage with the ladies to the foot of the Capitol, on the way to the House of Representatives. The report upon the duel still the subject of debate. Mr. Underwood was making a speech as I went in, after whom Mr. Thomas repeated his proposal to lay on the table and print. This brought on a series of manoeuvres on the part of either party, which came very near bringing a regular flare-up in which my father promised to make a prominent figure. But the Speaker was quite collected and decided so rapidly as to smother the fire. So after a series of Yeas and nays, Thomas carried his 40motion and thus terminates the subject.2 T. K. Davis and Mr. Campbell in after dinner, But I was tired and went to bed.

1.

The Columbian Mills (flour and meal) in the District of Columbia, acquired by JQA in 1823, had from the beginning proved a severe drain upon his capital; CFA had repeatedly and without success urged its sale or abandonment. See vols. 3:104; 4:16–17, 91–92, 369–370; 5: 20, 355; and Bemis, JQA , 2:197–200.

2.

CFA is in error. The two-part motion of Francis Thomas of Md. to lay the majority and minority reports on duelling on the table but to print both reports lost when the vote on the first part was adverse. A motion to adjourn without action on the report prevailed ( Congressional Globe , 25th Cong., 2d sess., p. 355–356).