Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Wednesday 23d. CFA Wednesday 23d. CFA
Wednesday 23d.

Very heavy rain with occasional gusts of wind throughout the day, which prevented my going out until evening. But as I thought it scarcely advisable to waste so much time, I finished the Bank Report, and then read the whole of the original debate upon the first charter of the United States Bank. This is a very interesting exposition of the views originally entertained of this much vexed question, and I am not aware that much more could have been said. The argument of Mr. Madison against the Bank is very able and would be convincing if experience had not shown even to his own satisfaction that it was fallacious. A national mode of some kind of regulating the currency is indispensable to every country. Mr. Ames is not so strong upon the general position as I should have expected, and the argument drawn from the particular clauses weakens itself by its multiplication.1

After dinner, in the evening, my Wife and I went to see the President. Introduced into his sitting room formerly called the green room, where were numbers of persons, of whom I found out the names only of Mr. Wright of N.Y., Mr. Hubbard of N.H., Senators and a Mr. Kelly from Peru, Illinois. They all left and then Govr. Dickerson came in.2 On the whole, the visit was very well, but I was much struck with the air ennueyé of the President and distrait too. He certainly manifests the cares of Office very much.

During our stay Mr. Hubbard mentioned his having received the intelligence of Mr. Woodbury’s nomination to be Chief Justice in New Hampshire, which seemed to spread a momentary gleam of satisfaction over his features. Yet the rumor is that Kendall is to succeed. A man in his way likely to be even more troublesome. Returned home reflecting upon the moral of ambition in ordinary men—and extraordinary ones too where the difference is only in the gloss which ability throws over the picture.

1.

The debate on the “bill to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States” in the House of Representatives, 1–7 Feb. 1791, is recorded in M. 50St. Clair Clarke and D. A. Hall, comps., Legislative and Documentary History of the Bank of the United States, Washington, 1832, p. 37–85. A copy is at MQA.

2.

Although the brothers Mahlon and Philemon Dickerson had each been governor of New Jersey, neither was presently so. Mahlon Dickerson was currently secretary of the navy ( DAB ).

Thursday. 24th. CFA Thursday. 24th. CFA
Thursday. 24th.

Morning fine, but much cooler than it has been. After devoting some time to making up Diary, &ca. I accompanied the ladies to the Capitol. In the House of Representatives, we found the discussion upon the Appropriation for the Cherokee Treaty which is about being executed. It seems the President has lately manifested some inclination to concede something to the public opinion of the fraudulent origin of the Treaty. The announcement of this in a message two days ago came like a clap of thunder upon the Representatives of the States interested. And they are now upon this bill uttering their complaints. We heard first Genl. Glascock and then Mr. Downing, a delegate from Florida, the latter violent and savage.1

A strong proof of the debased moral principle of the House may be found in the fact that such a speech as this could be listened to with even tolerable patience. It is Slavery that is at the bottom of this. I am more satisfied of the fact every day I live. And nothing can save this country from entire perversion morally and politically but the predominance of the Abolition principle. Whether this will ever take place is very doubtful. I have not much hope.2

Mr. Graham of North Carolina followed,3 but we left him to go to the Senate where was a short debate upon the Naval expedition.4 Nothing of interest so we returned home. Mr. Campbell dined here. Evening at home.

Conversation with my father who seems puzzled to explain the difficulties into which our public affairs are becoming involved. He says, Mr. Calhoun is sanguine of becoming the next candidate for the Presidency on the Antibank principle, opposed to Clay as a bank candidate. How this is to be done over the head of Van Buren and the Southern Union party, as well as against the Whig interest remains a fearful mystery.

1.

On 21 May, the President had sent a message to the Senate asking that the Congress adopt measures supportive of Secretary of War Poinsett’s undertaking to secure for the Cherokees compensation for their removal in excess of the terms specified in the disputed Treaty of 1835. Debate in the House on the issues raised began on the 23d and was continued on the 24th ( Congressional Globe , 25th Cong., 2d sess., p. 401–402, 405–406, 408). Thomas Glascock, representative from Ga., had been a brigadier general in the Seminole war ( Biog. Dir. Cong. ).

51 2.

CFA’s present position on these matters should be compared with his earlier view, and JQA’s, cited in note 3 to the entry for 29 Jan., above.

3.

JQA thought he spoke “ingeniously and impressively,” that his “judgment and feelings like those of Fillmore, fair, just and humane in all cases which touch not the immediate interests and passions of their Constituents, are unseated when Cherokee or Seneca Indians are parties concerned in the question” (Diary, 24 May).

4.

A South Sea Exploring Expedition ( Congressional Globe , 25th Cong., 2d sess., p. 409).