Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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).

Wednesday 30th. CFA Wednesday 30th. CFA
Wednesday 30th.

The morning was clear and beautiful as we rose with the sun to prepare for our Journey. After a rapid breakfast we started from the house for the Railway depot, taking leave of my father, I. Hull, and those of the household who were up. It is now just a month since I reached this place, a month of much enjoyment to my Wife and myself, as a relaxation from the cares of life.

My reception at the Metropolis has been better than I had any rea-55son to expect. My personal vanity has been flattered as much by the attentions bestowed by many here, as by absence of them from others; but my gratification has arisen from a better motive, the improved health of my Wife.

The spectacle of politics has not made me more in love with the trade as it is here carried on, and I am a little fearful that my way of viewing them will never become popular enough to be practicable. Be this as it may. My motto remains the same, and will do so, I hope, through all the vicissitudes of life. I am grateful to the divine being for my present position, and will remain content however he may regulate my line of usefulness.

We reached Baltimore by eight o’clock, and after an hour and a half of delay during which I walked into the town with Louisa, we started again for Philadelphia. The trip was favourable and the day could not have been finer. But towards the last of it there was delay. We went through in the cars as far as the road is finished and were then transferred to omnibuses, which completed the three miles very slowly and heavily.

Accidentally a small spark from the engine adhered to the ball of my eye which gave me acute suffering until I was able to extract it in the city but not until after the inflammation had become quite considerable. At last after five o’clock we reached the Marshall House where we stopped, and after dinner and a brief stroll down Chesnut Street, I returned with so violent a head ach and so much fatigued that I was glad to go early to bed, but the noise of the house was incessant until after midnight.