Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Sunday 18th.

Tuesday 20th.

Monday 19th. CFA


Monday 19th. CFA
Monday 19th.

After going over my maps rather hastily to day, I got into the Carriage with Madame, Abby and John to go to the Capitol in order to hear Mr. Webster in support of his Greek resolution the expectations for which are raised to the highest pitch.1 Mrs. Sullivan called amazingly early as usual for Mary. We ourselves were very early indeed, to obtain seats. A young man stands but little chance for ladies have the right of turning him out. I was lucky this time however, for by getting between two ladies, I was not encroached upon. The Crowninshields were there before us and Madame and John sat with them. America Peter came also, and John was routed to a place behind a pillar, to give her his seat. But he told me that in the most important point he was well enough, he could hear, and as for the rest he was compensated by the pleasure of teazing the younger Crowninshield, making her confess that she was very tired although it was Mr. Webster.

His speech was a good one, it could not have been bad, but in a consideration of the subject it appears to me that it could not have been any thing but a failure. He made the most of his subject and employed a digression or two to assist him but all would not do. He commenced by saying that he was sorry that he should be unable to reach the height formed for him by public opinion, then entered into a discussion of the principles of the holy Alliance, from the time in which it was first formed. He argued that to stop their plans we ought to support this nation, but at the same time disclaimed all idea of positive interference. He said that this measure 52was an innocent one, it would be of no injury to us and might be of considerable service to them, as an expression of approbation, and of sympathy in their sufferings.

The President was enabled by this resolution to decide at what time it should be carried into effect so that he might delay it if he thought fit, but he for his own part would strongly recommend that it should be done immediately. He then entered into an account of the massacres and barbarities committed by the Turks and mentioned the circumstance of the copper utensils of the Greeks in the island of Scio lying about on the wharves of Boston with great effect and finished off with a vehement and eloquent appeal to the feelings of the audience in favour of a people persecuted by the Turks and by the world, who had been looking this way for a ray of cheering comfort and supplicating us only to hold out our hand to grasp theirs and assure them that we felt for them and approved their cause.

He finished and the House adjourned soon after. On the whole I consider his speech as good a one as could be delivered on his subject. The arguments of policy are all against him in fact and consequently he musters up the holy alliance as a show to frighten us. But when with this very holy alliance we have taken the ground that they must not come here to meddle with the concerns of this continent it is somewhat singular that we should in the next minute go directly into their mouths and talk to them about the propriety of our assisting Greece.2 Had some conversation with John and Monsieur on the subject, who does not appear to think Mr. Webster prudent in more than one respect.3

We spent the evening very quietly at home, the young ladies do not say much about the speech, I imagine they agreed with Miss Crowninshield. John applied for tea and we retired.


See entry for 25 Dec. 1823, and note, above. For Webster’s speech see Annals of Congress , 18 Cong., 1 sess., p. 1085–1099.


CFA is referring to the Monroe Doctrine, promulgated on 2 December 1823 by the President as part of his Annual Message. Shaped in large part by JQA, the Monroe Doctrine warned Europe against any new colonization in the Americas and reaffirmed United States policy “not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of ... [Europe’s] powers.” For a full discussion of the several parts of the Monroe Doctrine, see Bemis, JQA , 1:382–393.


JQA opposed Webster’s resolution because it meddled with the duties of the Executive department and used public opinion to embarrass the administration (JQA, Diary, 17 Jan. 1824).