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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0004-0010-0020

Author: CFA
Date: 1828-10-19

Sunday 19th.

Arose quite late and had therefore but little time to copy much. After breakfast, I went to St. John’s Church and heard Dr. Beasley of Philadelphia preach.1 His Sermon did not strike me much. On my return I found an extremely pleasant letter from Abby, which I answered in the course of the day, after returning from my usual ride with my Mother.
Mr. Clay dined with us and Mr. Gales came in after dinner. We had a great deal of conversation and I never before met with so good an opportunity of seeing them in contrast. By them, I mean my father and Mr. Clay. They discussed many subjects, the Ghent treaty occasioned by Mr. Jonathan Russel’s expose lately published to injure them,2 the Seminole war, and other matters. It is needless to say that on the second subject, they differed widely,3 they have always done so. Clay has become much of an egotist owing to the constant individual pressure upon him which has contributed constantly to make himself the subject of his story, but he still has uncommon points. And no one can listen to his conversation when free and unreserved without being considerably fascinated. He sat very late and on the { 297 } whole, I consider this as one of the most fortunate occurrences of my life, by which I was admitted behind the scenes and saw these men exhibited in some of their brightest respective points. The Conversation was very animated but it rolled on so many points that although I wished it, I could not fix upon any thing sufficiently definite to commit it to paper as remarkable. Mr. Jefferson’s letter relative to my father’s course upon the Embargo, lately published,4 Mr. Lloyd’s letter about the fisheries,5 Mr. Clay’s course upon the Seminole affairs, and some remarks upon Mr. Tallmadge of New York comprised the points of conversation upon each of which there was a good deal of discussion. Evening short in consequence.
1. The Rev. Frederick Beasley, provost of the University of Pennsylvania ( Desilver’s Philadelphia Directory, 1828).
2. Jonathan Russell (1771–1832), who had been one of the American commissioners at Ghent, in 1822 charged that JQA had been willing to surrender the right of free navigation on the Mississippi River to the British at the end of the War of 1812 in exchange for American control of the northeastern fisheries. JQA exposed Russell’s errors in a devastating pamphlet entitled The Duplicate Letters, the Fisheries and the Mississippi, Washington, 1822. See JQA, Writings , 7:250–335.
3. Clay and his friends had denounced Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Florida in 1818, during which he seized St. Marks and Pensacola and hanged Arbuthnot and shot Ambrister, as an unauthorized act of war, in violation of the Constitution, but JQA denied that Jackson had violated his instructions and justified his actions “by the necessities of the case and by the misconduct of the Spanish commanding officers in Florida” (Bemis, JQA , 1:315).
4. Somehow it became known that Thomas Jefferson shortly before his death had written W. B. Giles not one but two letters concerning JQA. One, supposed to be held confidential, Giles had published in 1827 in order to injure JQA’s presidential chances (see entry for 14 Sept. 1827, and note, above). At the request of Archibald Stuart, a stanch Adams supporter, Thomas J. Randolph, Jefferson’s grandson, had recently produced a copy of the other letter, which Giles had withheld because it praised JQA. Dated 25 December 1825, it related in a somewhat jumbled fashion the aged President’s recollection that JQA in 1808 had declared that the Massachusetts Federalists were “in negotiation with agents of the British government” and that repeal of the embargo was “absolutely necessary” in order to remove “temptations . . . such as might debauch many from their fidelity to the Union” (HA, New-England Federalism , p. 10–13).
5. In 1823 Senator James Lloyd of Massachusetts had appealed to President Monroe for protection of American rights in the Pacific Northwest. Replying for the President, JQA advocated upholding the American claim to the entire Columbia River basin against both Great Britain and Russia, and he announced again his noncolonization principle (Bemis, JQA , 1:514–515).

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0004-0010-0021

Author: CFA
Date: 1828-10-20

Monday 20th.

Arose very late owing to the darkness of the morning. It rained very heavily for the first time since my arrival here. Detained at home all day, occupied in very little. A little of Columbus in the morning and the life of Byron in the remainder of the day. Little news of any kind. { 298 } Evening quiet with the family. The political affairs of the day are now rapidly approaching the crisis. I wish it over very heartily.