Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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

1.

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

2.

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).

3.

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 ].)

Friday 18th. CFA Friday 18th. CFA
Friday 18th.

We had showers in the morning which moderated the heat a little. Mr. Frye called after breakfast and I gave him the papers of Lt. Casey sent to settle T. B. A.’s affairs. I then accompanied my father in the carriage to the capitol, returning the visits of the Russian Minister1 on the way.

But the House did not appear disposed to take any thing up so I walked home, calling upon Mr. Meredith who had left town2 and upon Johnson Hellen.3 The latter I found in his room complaining of his condition much. He does not look sick, but has the appearance of a heautontimorumenos.4 I could not help pitying the condition to which a man can by his own art reduce himself. He reminds me much of the passage of years. After a slight conversation, the entrance of a client interrupted us and I promised to call again.

Home where I amused the rest of the day in reading the report upon the West India Emancipated Colonies, and the Bank Report made by Mr. Woodbury.5 Quiet evening at home.

1.

Baron de Maltitz.

2.

Probably George Augustus Meredith, a Harvard classmate of CFA; see vol. 2: 277 227 .

3.

On Johnson Hellen, a nephew of LCA and brother of Mrs. JA2, see vol. 5:195.

4.

A self-tormentor, adapted from the title of a play by Terence ( Webster, 2d edn.); and see vol. 5:265.

5.

An essay on the results of emancipation in the British colonies in the West Indies was in the current issue of the Eclectic Review of London (68:450, 532). The text of the Bank Report of Levi Woodbury as transmitted by the President to the Senate on 10 May appeared in the Washington Globe, 11 May, p. 2, col. 1.

Saturday. 19th. CFA Saturday. 19th. CFA
Saturday. 19th.

A very fine day. I spent it very quietly at home with the exception of a long walk. Read more of the Emancipation Report and of the Bank pamphlet of Mr. Woodbury. The first although manifestly ex parte yet carries with it a vast amount of evidence of the practicability of immediate abolition. I think it tends to confirm me in my preconceived notions upon that subject. My walk extended to the Potomac River and bridge, over ground frequently crossed by me as a boy, the recollections of which are pleasant enough, and yet slightly melancholy from the passage of time.

47

I am beginning to feel the want of my occupations, and to look with a slight impatience to the hour of return. This will, I hope not be delayed beyond the week after next. Nothing of interest in Congress. News from Philadelphia of the destruction by a mob of the hall lately erected for free discussion.1 Such is the nature and extent of American liberty. A call from General Macomb.2 Evening at home. Visits from Captain and Mrs. Williams and Mr. Campbell. After which I read part of Senator Wright’s report.

1.

The news was contained in a letter from Benjamin Lundy to JQA with an accompanying broadside that sets out in detail the action of the anti-abolitionist mob in setting fire to and destroying the new Pennsylvania Hall during a meeting of the Female Anti-Slavery Society addressed by Angelina Grimké Weld on 17 May (Lundy to JQA, 18 May, Adams Papers; JQA, Diary, 19 May).

2.

Maj. Gen. Alexander Macomb, commander in chief of the Army.