Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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).

Friday 25th. CFA Friday 25th. CFA
Friday 25th.

Morning cloudy with rain and severely cold for the advanced season. I remained at home working up my Diary as usual, until noon and then walked up to the Capitol.

Nothing doing in the House but matters of private claim; I went into the Senate where Mr. Clay was speaking upon his resolution for the reception of State Bank paper. He re-stated the circumstances under which the Treasury Circular had been sustained and the reasons why it should not be adhered to. He was answered by Col. T. H. Benton in his usual style and tone. There is however an appearance of heavy pressure upon the Administration party throughout all of it’s movements. And a vacillation of purpose which has the effect to dishearten the friends and encourage the enemies. Benton himself, boaster as he is, boasts in a subdued manner, as under correction from a majority. Home to dinner.

Evening, all the family but my Mother who is still quite unwell went to Mrs. Smith’s to a small party of the family, Mr. and Mrs. Randall and Genl. and Mrs. Macomb. Cards and a Supper. More company than room and very cold indeed, but there was every effort to do the “possible” and on the whole we retired before midnight handsomely entertained.

Saturday 26th. CFA Saturday 26th. CFA
Saturday 26th.

Clear and cool. On the whole, a very fine day. After breakfast, I called to see Dr. Huntt who is now confined to his house.1 He is a mere skeleton, and the most wretched looking one I ever saw, but he keeps up his spirits and talks as rapidly as ever. Indeed far more so than he used to do. He takes great interest in politics, curses the present dynasty and looks to a revolution which he is not likely to witness. While he is under no sense of religion to prepare him for his change, I feel friendly to Huntt for his attention to myself as well as to my Mother and am sorry to think I see him for the last time.

52

Home. Diary. At noon, we that is the ladies and Hull with myself went by agreement to see some curiosities of Major Hook’s arranged in his bachelor establishment.2 They consist mainly of Indian relics and pictures representing their habits. The ornaments of Oseola were perhaps the most interesting. But there is much sameness in Indian dresses when unassociated with persons. From thence to the Capitol where the Senate was sitting in debate upon the resolution of Mr. Clay. Mr. Sevier of Arkansaw spoke mainly against that part of the Report of the Finance Committee which touches the Specie Circular. He was followed briefly by Mr. Clay, Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Niles, Mr. Rives and Mr. Wright. The debate was interesting, particularly Mr. Rives’ examination of the Report. He was strong in attack but feeble in explaining his own position, which is not tenable. Home to dinner. Evening passed quietly. My father dined out at Mr. Pontois to meet the Prince de Joinville, a youth of 18, the son of Louis Philippe of France who is travelling for his pleasure. He was in the Senate. An olive complexoned young man with marked features, but not handsome, nor distinguished in any way. He excited much curiosity. Mr. and Mrs. Smith here for an hour.

1.

Dr. Henry Huntt had, for many years, been the Adams family physician in Washington (vol. 2, index).

2.

Maj. James Harvey Hook of Maryland (Heitman, Register U.S. Army , vol. 1).