Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Sunday 27th. CFA Sunday 27th. CFA
Sunday 27th.

The weather is very certainly far from favorable. Wind and cold and heat each in undue proportion. Attended divine service at St. John’s Church, where Mr. Hawley preached from Hebrews 8. 13. “In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old”. My attention was not fixed and Mr. Hawley is not interesting. The Church was not so full as last Sunday.1

Visits from Govr. Dickerson, Mrs. Frye and others. Read a sermon of Buckminster’s. 1. Corinthians 11. 31. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” A singular text for a discourse upon self knowledge, the difficulties and the advantages of it. Mr. Campbell dined with us. Evening, the ladies with my father and I went to Mrs. Frye’s where we spent a couple of hours. Nothing of interest.

On this day, my little boy, Charles is three years old. May heaven preserve him for utility and honor. I feel the burden of absence from my children increasing.

53 1.

JQA found a broader meaning in the sparse attendance: “The neglect of public worship in this city is an increasing evil; and the indifference to all religion throughout the whole country portends no good. There is in the Clergy of all the Christian denominations, a time serving, cringing subservient morality as wide from the Spirit of the Gospel as it is from the intrepid assertion and vindication of truth. The counterfeit character ... is disclosed in the dissensions growing up in all the protestant Churches, on the subject of Slavery” (Diary, 27 May).

Monday 28th. CFA Monday 28th. CFA
Monday 28th.

The weather continues cold, but pleasant to walk about. I felt slightly unwell with symptoms of an impending head ach. Went with the ladies to make some return visits prior to leaving and then to the Capitol where I was not however well rewarded for my walk; for in the Senate, Mr. Morris of Ohio was making an extreme Speech in the Radical way marked by little but its vehemence, and in the Senate,1 the debate on the Cherokee treaty was dragging slowly along. On the whole, the prospect seemed best in the Senate for the future, but after Mr. Morris finished, the question was taken first upon the motion made by him to repeal the act of 1816,2 which was lost by a large vote, and then upon the third reading of the amended Resolution of Mr. Clay which was carried. Home.

After dinner the ladies went to Mrs. Turunbull’s.3 Conversation with Mr. Gilpin who was there with his wife and members i.e. numbers of others. Some political hints to him, but nothing of interest. He is a politician of the democratic school much too mild for his business. And I judge his character is that of almost all the present managers of the Government. They are small men who look to the present, and to themselves. We had singing from Mr. Campbell and I. Hull and did not return until twelve.


An inadvertence for “House.”


That is, the act establishing the Second Bank of the United States.


Mrs. Turnbull was the wife of Capt. William Turnbull, a topographical engineer (JQA, Diary, 28 May; Heitman, Register U.S. Army , vol. 1).

Tuesday. 29th. CFA Tuesday. 29th. CFA
Tuesday. 29th.

Morning at home, the weather cool and showery. I finished the arrangements of our departure and packed up the trunks, somewhat to the regret of my Wife, who seems to have taken a fancy to this place. A little before noon, accompanied the two ladies and Mrs. Turnbull for whom we called, to the Arsenal at Greenleaf’s Point where we had 54been invited by the commanding Officer, Capt. George Ramsay the brother of Mrs. Turnbull.

The site is a beautiful one, just at the fork of the Potomac and commands a fine view down to Alexandria. Here are manufactured by steam power gun carriages both of wood and iron and various mountings. It is also the receptacle of arms from Harper’s Ferry, which are again distributed from here to the places where they are wanted. At this moment a schooner was loading at the wharf with arms for the Cherokee country, the scene of present cruelty. Capt. Ramsay is a courteous gentleman and did every thing in his power to amuse us, so that we spent more time than I could well spare, and I thus lost the opportunity to make the remaining calls I had designed.

Dinner a little later than usual, my father not returned from the Capitol. Mr. Campbell dined with us and we had a song or two afterwards. Then came in the various members of the family to take leave. Mr. and Mrs. Frye and Miss Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Much talk of an insurrection of the blacks supposed to be about to break out at 11 o’clock this night and instigated by an Abolitionist from New York or elsewhere. The alarms of the whites sufficiently show the horrors of the slavery system without the need of exaggeration. Their fears magnify their own danger, and this produces all the violence they dread. I imagine the whole story grows out of a very small affair, but such is the character of the whites that it may not improbably lead to bad consequences. My mother and the family are always apprehensive at such times of the possible direction of the public feeling against my father for having taken so much part in the matter. I hope she has no cause.1 The family retired early and so did we, being early to be called. My father detained at the house.


JQA noted, “There is a panic rumour abroad, artificially gotten up; of Slave insurgency, amounting to nothing” (Diary, 30 May).