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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0001-0027

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-01-26

Monday. 26th.

Continued my studies in Geography and read Lord Bacon, also one or two numbers in the North American Review, which in my opinion is not exactly equal to it’s predecessor. Having nothing to do, I walked with Johnson to the Capitol, but we were not very well rewarded for our pains, Mr. Alexander Smyth being up, making remarks and observations without end. We saw his papers before him and were always expecting the present one to be the last but he always had one more so that we were entirely disappointed for the day. Finding this to be the case, I went into the Senate. Mr. Barton speaking very coolly on a case of land claims.1 This was the first time I had been here for three years, as last Winter although often at the House, there never had been even curiosity enough to draw me here.
The speech here was as uninteresting as the other so that I soon returned to the House. As Johnson was patiently sitting here, I joined him and we made observations on the Members generally. Alexander Smyth is only famous for his proclamations, and foolish conduct in the last war and for having excited the wrath of my father who gave him a most complete overthrow.2 This is no boasting as it has been allowed on all sides. He finished logicizing and Mr. Rich then rose, and moved that the committee rise without asking leave to sit again—which was carried without counting the division, Webster voting for it. So this bill is laid asleep after having made some disturbance and ill blood. We returned home very much amused on the whole and spent the rest of the day in conversation.
1. David Barton (1783–1837), Senator from Missouri, spoke in favor of a bill to adjust land claims in Missouri and the Territory of Arkansas ( Annals of Congress , 18 Cong., 1 sess., p. 142).
2. For Smyth’s conduct in the War of 1812, see entry for 22 Jan., and note, above. Smyth and JQA had been carrying on a running battle for months. In January 1823 the Congressman charged JQA with falsifying the Journal of the Federal Convention, published in 1819 on congressional order by the State Department, but he was obliged to drop his accusation of what JQA called a “conspiracy of the colons and capital letters” when the Secretary proved that no errors were intended when some unusual punctuation appeared in the official printing of the document. In January 1824 Smyth made the preposterous charge that JQA favored the African slave trade. See JQA, Memoirs , 6:120–122, 124–127; 7:242, 308, 431; and JQA’s Letter [of 22 Dec. 1822], in Reply to a Letter of the Hon. Alexander { 69 } Smyth, to His Constituents . . . [Washington?], 1823, first published in the Richmond Enquirer, 4 Jan. 1823, then in the pamphlet cited here, and reprinted in JQA, Writings , 7:335–354.