Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Tuesday 15th. CFA Tuesday 15th. CFA
Tuesday 15th.

The weather is waxing warmer. I went out early this morning and made a call upon Dr. Thomas returning a visit from him, and also one from A. H. Everett who is still up in his room, although nearly recovered. Much conversation with him upon the state of politics here and in Boston. I stated very frankly my difficulties as I always do and expressed my unwillingness to put confidence in an Administration which drew it’s support from a sacrifice of the North to the sectional pride of Mr. Calhoun. He told me that Mr. Van Buren had written me a note acknowledging my Pamphlets which note I never received. Also that Mr. Foster wrote to him that the Advocate was to be abandoned, and complained of the doubtful course of the Government. What a turbid state.

My difficulties are of a peculiar character. I want confidence in every thing and every body, and feel almost as hostile to one party on principle as I do to the other from feeling. I trust in an overruling providence both for the country and for myself.

Went to the Capitol. Mr. R. Biddle was speaking and I very soon became interested in his argument. Indeed it is the only one which I have heard which is of a high character. He took up in turn each of the Administration party and certainly exposed them in a manner which could not be exceeded. There was an elegance of style and a facility of imagery which is uncommon where mere talent seems to be almost universal.

After he ceased Mr. Bell took up the debate and as I think little of 44him, I returned home. T. K. Davis really went this morning and I felt his absence. Mr. Everett says he Davis has been very well received and made a favorable impression. So far, so good.

After dinner, again to the play. Mrs. Smith taking the place of my Mother whose visit to the theatre last evening proved too much for her, and she has been unwell ever since. The Barber of Seville. Caradori as Rosina, Walton as Figaro, Pearson as Almaviva and Brough as Basil. The piece quite tolerably sustained. Pearson did well in parts but he spoilt the Quintette at the close of the second act. The trio “Zitti, zitti,” very well indeed. Caradori also sung Una voce, very well. On the whole the Barber carried off the piece most effectively. Home late.

Wednesday 16th. CFA Wednesday 16th. CFA
Wednesday 16th.

The heat of the Theatre last night made my head ach and I got up with it which made a bad prospect for me for the day. I of course tried to go out to get the benefit of the air. Called on the way to see Madame Caradori, found her not yet up but saw her husband, then left a card for Mr. Cushing and went on to the Capitol.

A speech from Mr. Hoffman, attacking the South Carolinians, then a plain, sensible address from Mr. Jones of Virginia on the Administration side, to which Mr. Wise made a reply. Hoffman is a mere declaimer, but I think Wise may become a great man if he tries to learn wisdom by experience. The interest in the debate appeared to flag a little and my head disabled me from relishing as much of it as I otherwise should.

At four I left Wise speaking to return home. The sun was scorching, and upon my reaching the house I felt much exhausted by the fatigue. My system has become so accustomed to the bracing cold of our Eastern Atmosphere that the enervating influence of this air is almost intolerable.

After dinner, the ladies went in the carriage and I accompanied them to Mr. Frye’s where the members of the family were assembled, excepting my father who was detained until too late at the Capitol and my mother unwell. We had cards and then a pretty Supper and music from I. Hull and Campbell, after which we went home.

Thursday 17th. CFA Thursday 17th. CFA
Thursday 17th.

I felt so much fatigued that I almost determined upon remaining at home all day, but although warm the day was cloudy with drops of 45rain so as to make the walking less difficult. After writing up the arrears of my Diary, I went in the Carriage with the ladies calling at Mrs. Thornton’s,1 as far as Claggett’s shop where I got out and walked from thence to the Capitol.

The question was upon the passage of the Treasury Note bill which had been squeezed through last night, but was arrested on a reconsideration this morning. It was clear that this was a close party test in a full house and as such excited great interest. The vote turned out 110 in the affirmative and 109 in the negative to which the Speaker added his vote thus producing a tie and defeating the reconsideration. Thus it appears pretty plain that allowing the Administration nearly all the Carolinians, they are still in a minority in the House.

After this was well over, the House went upon some matter connected with the question of Northwest boundary, and Mr. Cushing went upon it2 in so dry a way that I transferred myself to the Senate where they were discussing as drily the District Bank charters.

So I returned and found my father up making an explanatory Speech respecting our boundary titles to the Westward in the course of which he went over much interesting matter as well relating to the history of the discovery, as to certain cabinet proceedings of which he gave a pleasing sketch, and of his own agency therein. It was amusing to observe how he collected his audience from a handful, for the excitement of the preceding days had exhausted the House, to a little collection around him. Shortly afterwards the House adjourned but I left beforehand. Quiet evening at home. A curious notice in the Boston Courier of my letters which is too flattering.3


On Mrs. William Thornton, see vol. 1:36.


While the Oregon boundary question as a national issue was still several years in the future, the numbers involved in the movement westward during the 1830s had already served to bring to general attention the land claims of Great Britain and the United States in that area that remained unresolved. Most recently, the President had addressed the matter of title in a message. When the message was taken up in the House, Caleb Cushing, representative from Mass., spoke, moving to instruct the committee considering the question “to inquire into the expediency of establishing a post on the Columbia river ... and the expediency of making further provision ... to prevent any intermeddling by any foreign power with the Indians there” ( Congressional Globe , 25th Cong., 2d sess., p. 380).


In the issue of 15 May, p. 2, col. 5, appeared a note with the heading, “A Second Junius”: “We do not believe that our correspondent, ‘A Citizen,’ will thank us for giving him this title, knowing as we do that he has no desire to be called one of the first or best writers of his day, but we have been somewhat amused at the conjectures of many of our friends as to who he is.... We have invariably refused to say yes or no to the questions propounded on the subject. A contemporary has attributed the articles ... to a distinguished politician of the present day, while some others attribute them to two or three gentlemen who have retired from political life, or to young men who may be called, perhaps, unfledged politi-46cians. If our correspondent is to be a second Junius, we intend to be a second Woodfall,” (Henry Sampson Woodfall, printer and publisher of the Public Advertiser in whose columns the Junius letters appeared, disclaimed agreement with their content and steadfastly refused to identify their author [ DNB ].)