Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7



ix Descriptive List of Illustrations Descriptive List of Illustrations

[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

Descriptive List of Illustrations
“West Point Military Academy” in 1828: Drawn by George Catlin, Engraved by John Hill 7[unavailable]

George Catlin, then at the beginning of his career, drew and painted a number of Hudson River scenes. Colored engravings of his drawings of that period were made and published by John Hill. This engraving of West Point looks northward across the “Plain” toward the Highlands and up the river toward Newburgh. The mountain to the left is Storm King. Mount Beacon is on the right in the distance. In the river, the small island closest to the shore is Constitution Island. The Academy structures shown to the left of the Plain were officers’ quarters. A companion engraving looks southward from the river across the Plain toward the main Academy buildings. Both prints are presently at the Academy, along with two oils by Catlin of the same subjects and period. (Information supplied to the editors in a letter from Michael E. Moss, Curator of Art, West Point Museum.)

The beauty of the Academy’s situation has brought delight to visitors from the time of its establishment. The inveterate traveler and reporter Mrs. Anne Royall wrote, “It is a question whether that place on earth exists, where sublimity, beauty, and utility, are so happily blended as at West Point.” N. P. Willis, surveying the American scene, reported, “Of the river scenery of America, the Hudson at West Point, is doubtless the boldest and most beautiful.... Back from the bluff ... extends a natural platform ... high, level, and beautifully amphitheatred.... There are few more fairy spots in this working-day world.” (Royall, Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in the United States, New Haven, 1826, p. 375; Willis, American Scenery; ... Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature, 2 vols., London, 1840, 1:6–7.)

Charles Francis Adams, both in 1836 and on a visit ten years earlier, responded similarly to the scene. Each of his visits came while a relative was enrolled as a cadet. In 1826, the presence of two of his cousins, Thomas Boylston Adams Jr. and Robert Buchanan, both giving characteristically good accounts of themselves, would have provided added satisfaction to the visit. In 1836, however, the situation of Isaac Hull Adams, whose appointment to the academy John Quincy Adams had supported in a request to the secretary of war and whom Charles Francis Adams had tutored for admission, brought more concern than satisfaction. Although he had passed his examinations well, conduct infractions plagued him. Currently he was “confined to the limits of the Post,” not permitted to visit his relatives at the hotel. Fewer than two months later word arrived that “he had been obliged to resign his commission ... to avoid dismissal.” x(Vols. 2:21, 71, 252; 4:235, 255; below, entries of 16–18 June, 2 Aug. 1836.)

Courtesy of West Point Museum Collections, United States Military Academy.

“Lockport, Erie Canal”: Drawn by W. H. Bartlett, Engraved by W. Tombleson, 1838 21 [page] [image]

Writing in the Diary about his transit of the Erie Canal with his wife, Charles Francis Adams recorded of Lockport: “Here it is that one may consider the grandeur of an undertaking like this. Three hundred and fifty miles of artificial water navigation, two of which alone at Lockport were enough as an enterprise” (entry of 29 June 1836, below). Adams’ words echoed the efforts of others to express the meaning of Lockport for that age. N. P. Willis, in the sketch written to accompany this engraving, called Lockport, “one of those wonders of enterprise”; Henry Tudor wrote from the site in 1831 that the beholder is struck “with astonishment to perceive what vast difficulties can be overcome by the pigmy arms of little mortal man, aided by science and directed by superior skill”; and Thurlow Weed had described Lockport in the Rochester (N.Y.) Telegraph, upon the completion of construction in 1825, as “a work which will probably remain for ages as a monument of American genius and American patriotism.” (The engraving is reproduced from N. P. Willis, American Scenery; ... Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature, 2 vols., London, 1840, 1:facing p. 110, the Willis quotation is in the same at p. 110. The Tudor and Weed statements are quoted respectively in Roger Haydon, ed., Upstate Travels: British Views of Nineteenth-Century New York, Syracuse, N.Y., 1982, p. 211; and Ronald E. Shaw, Erie Water West, Lexington, Ky., 1966, p. 407.)

Work at Lockport had begun in 1822. More than a thousand men were employed to cut a channel twenty-seven feet wide and six to twenty feet deep through a ridge seven miles long, two miles of which were solid rock. Rising from the canal’s level were twin banks, one hundred feet high, into whose sides tow paths were chiseled. Compensation for the sixty-foot change in the elevation of the canal at the two ends of the cut was effected at the eastern end by the creation of a double flight of five locks that would carry the canal boats up and down, plying in either direction. A year after the inception of the enterprise the magnitude of the project proved to be too much for the contractors. The state took over their function. “Here was the first assumption of public works by the state on the Erie Canal, and perhaps, the first such project in the history of the United States.” (Erie Water West, p. 130–132.)

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

“Horse-Shoe Fall, at Niagara (Seen from Goat Island)”—With the Stone Tower: Drawn by W. H. Bartlett, Engraved by R. Blandard, 1837 29 [page] [image]

The imaginations of generations of those who traveled to see and to wonder were aroused by reports of the splendors of the falls of Niagara. The completion in 1825 of the 362 miles of the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo provided, among other benefits, the means to satisfy the desires of the ordinary traveler to experience the natural marvel in relative comfort. xiCharles Francis and Abigail Brooks Adams in 1836 were among those from the eastern seaboard and Europe who thronged the waterway westward.

The spectacle in its entirety moved Adams to repeated efforts to capture its quality: “The scenery strikes me as peculiarly grand. The narrow gorge in which the river runs, the height of the banks, their wild and rugged state, all put one in mind of the sovereignty of nature in her solitudes.” “I looked with that kind of wonder which is not satisfied with seeing and continues under the impression till the mind ceases to be conscious of the cause operating upon it. I was under constant excitement while at Niagara, never ceasing to take pleasure at observing the Fall from the various positions, although I could not analyze in what the pleasure consisted.” Visits during their four-day stay to the various points of vantage led him to conclude that a visitor would be best rewarded by views from Table Rock on the Canadian side, “the commencement of the ascent from the ferry on the American side,” under the Middle Fall, and from the Stone Tower on Goat Island to the Horse Shoe Fall and the rapids above it. The Horse Shoe, he pronounced “undoubtedly the finest general mass.”

(Entries of 30 June–3 July 1836, below. The engraving is reproduced from N. P. Willis, American Scenery; ... Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature, 2 vols., London, 1840, 1:facing p. 32.)

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Titlepages of Reflections upon the Present State of the Currency in the United Status and Further Reflections ... by C. F. Adams, 1837 191 [page] [image]

With the publication in 1837 of two pamphlets on money and banking issues, Charles Francis Adams ventured into matters that had earlier occupied him only sporadically and peripherally but would become among the centers of his concern for the next twenty years. He chose to place his name on the titlepage of the second of these pamphlets and on the titlepages of later productions in the same subject area before he adopted the practice in his publications in other fields. In making this distinction, he reflected both the restraints operating upon him in taking public positions on current political and social issues (see vol. 5:xxvi–xxx) and the confidence he had come to feel in his expertise on economic matters. Reputation acquired through the publication of the two pamphlets, particularly the second, provided him the necessary impetus to continue to explore the field. Praise from such leading Boston financial figures as Nathan Appleton, Charles P. Curtis, John Parker, Henry Lee, and his own father-in-law, Peter C. Brooks, gave weight to his opinions. Through Lee, Adams came to the notice of Freeman Hunt of New York, just embarking on the publication there of Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Review (1839–1870). On Hunt’s initiative, the magazine in its first year published five articles by Adams, each bearing his name as author. Amid the variety of other interests he would pursue, Adams’ accomplishments in the economic field have received little notice in later studies of his career. But his reflections on currency and banking problems did continue to be valued, as is evident from his election to the presidency of the Mt. Wollaston Bank in Quincy at its organization in 1853. He served until his resignation in 1859, when his service in the Congress impended. In those years the bank prospered, and Adams as its head became the leader in 1858 of the “country xiibanks” in their hard-fought and successful challenge to the powerful Suffolk Bank of Boston, which had enjoyed a monopolistic control of the terms on which “foreign currency” would be redeemed. (See below, entries of 28 Feb., 23 March, 19, 20 April, 24 Nov. 1837; 1, 24 Jan. 1838; 3 Jan., 16, 26 April, 25 June, 18, 25, 26 July, 22 Oct. 1839; Diary, 28 April–1 Dec. 1858; “Mt. Wollaston Bank” in Adams Papers Editorial Files.)

Charles Francis Adams’ focus upon the currency as a concern that would lead him to publish the two pamphlets in 1837 developed from the issuance by the Jackson administration in July 1836 of the Specie Circular. When Daniel Webster in a speech six months later registered objections to the policy, Adams found the grounds unsatisfactory. He was much more favorably impressed with the position taken by Nicholas Biddle in his letters on the currency addressed to John Quincy Adams and published in Dec. 1836. They, in turn, sent Charles Francis Adams to a restudy of Albert Gallatin’s 1831 essay on the subject and to further reading of works on money by Hume and Adam Smith. Composition began in Jan. 1837, taking the form of a series of articles for publication in the Boston Daily Advocate entitled “Mr. Webster and the Currency.” However, when it became clear that the policy of the Jackson Administration on money and banks would be followed in the Administration of Martin Van Buren, the Advocate editorially announced its support, while Adams remained firmly opposed, although they had been united in support of Van Buren’s election. The Advocate broke off publication of the series before its completion. Adams’ decision to publish the whole series as a pamphlet was immediate; Reflections Upon the ... Currency appeared in February. As predicted, the ill effects of the Administration’s policies were keenly felt in the passing months; extensive bankruptcies, economic distress, and loss of confidence followed. Adams, in May, began to write, though interrupted by other projects for several periods, on what would ultimately appear as Further Reflections. Van Buren’s message in September recommending the government’s withdrawal from banking and currency regulation brought Adams new resolve. He returned to the study of authorities, to the completion of the pamphlet’s text in November, and to its publication in December. (Entries of 11 July, 10, 11 Nov., 13, 28 Dec. 1836; 14 Jan.–25 Feb. passim, 13 April–12 May passim, 14 May–7 June passim, 18, 20 Aug., 4–20 Sept. passim, 16 Nov.–26 Dec. 1837 passim.)

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Faneuil Hall in 1838: Drawn by W. H. Bartlett, Engraved by H. Griffiths 357 [page] [image]

Boston’s venerable meeting hall and market at Dock Square as it appeared in the engraving in N. P. Willis, American Scenery; ... Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature (2 vols., London, 1840, 1:facing p. 57) was much changed from the original form given it in 1742 by John Smibert. It was then of two stories with the market below and the meeting hall and town offices above. A fire in 1761 destroyed the interior, leaving only the exterior brick walls. The reconstruction involved no essential change in form. However, in 1805 the width of the building was doubled, a third floor added, and the cupola relocated on the Dock Square end of the building, xiiiall according to plans by Charles Bulfinch. Its uses in the intervening years continued unchanged. However, during the years of British occupation the meeting hall served as a theater, and for an extended period the building served as Boston’s only polling place. The public meetings in the hall in the years beginning in 1764, during which resentment against British policy achieved formulation, made the hall venerated as “the cradle of liberty” (Albert Britt, “The Cradle of Liberty,” Bostonian Society, Proceedings, 1943, p. 33–50; Harold and James Kirker, Bulfinch’s Boston, 1787–1817, N.Y., 1964, p. 31, 43, 56, 195, 269; Walter Muir Whitehill, Boston: A Topographical History, Cambridge, 1959, p. 41–44).

Through the years that followed the Revolution, the sentiments expressed and the purposes served at the meetings in the hall were of the most varied sorts, economic, social, and political. All the parties caucused in it and diverse causes were forwarded or snuffed out. Not before 1837 was access to the hall for a public meeting denied by the town authorities. Public feeling on slavery and its abolition had reached such a pitch in that year, however, that the unprecedented action was taken to prevent the expression in meeting of outrage at the murder of Elijah P. Lovejoy in Illinois. Sentiment in Boston over the official action, as measured by its newspapers, was divided. Charles Francis Adams entered the controversy with a letter to the Boston Morning Post applauding its opposition to the ban. When the outcry forced a modification to permit a meeting in the hall during daylight hours, Adams was present to report “the most excited public meeting I was ever present at” and to hear in that hall the attorney general of the Commonwealth, J. T. Austin, deliver a defense of the slaying. “Nothing could exceed the mixed amount of disgust and indignation which moved me at the doctrines of the learned expounder of mob law.” But the occasion was made more memorable and more in keeping with the hall’s history by an effective impromptu speech delivered by Wendell Phillips, marking the debut of his long and distinguished career (entries of 2 and 8 Dec. 1837, below; Britt, “Cradle of Liberty,” p. 47).

Adams’ own debut as a speaker in Faneuil Hall would come on 4 July 1843. Earlier, he had avoided opportunities to speak there, fearing the sufficiency of his voice in the hall that accommodated 2,000 persons (vol. 6:330). When he did ascend the historic tribune to take his place as the third of his line to do so, John Quincy Adams was present: “My father appeared more overcome than any body. To him the scene itself was full of associations. It was in Faneuil Hall that his father had commenced his brilliant career. Fifty years ago he had himself delivered the same oration ——. And this had been his opening effort. Ten years later in life I have been called to do the same service.... I was fatigued and felt my voice much strained. The difficulty of filling Faneuil Hall is great, but I conquered it, so now I shall not fear any more for my voice” (Diary, 4 July 1843, Adams Papers).

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Two Sketches by Lieutenant Thomas Boylston Adams Jr. 375 [page] [image]

On 25 May 1836 Lt. Adams, from his post in Florida, addressed a letter to the Adjutant General’s office requesting a transfer and assignment to a topographical unit. There he hoped that his talent for sketching, which xivhad been recognized in his classes at West Point, might be utilized and developed. The request was not granted, apparently from a need for officers to continue the prosecution of the Second Seminole war. On 14 Dec. 1837 at Fort Dade, Fla., he died of a fever. The two sketches, one of Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor, S.C., done in May 1832 while he was on a tour of duty there, and the other, without identification of place or date, were preserved among the papers of his sister Elizabeth Coombs Adams. (Adams Papers Editorial Files.)

To Lt. Adams’ skills were added qualities of character that made him cherished by his family and his colleagues in the military. His widowed mother’s principal support, a model for his siblings, one in whom the Adams family’s hopes for the future were centered, he had the admiration of his uncle and aunt, John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams, and of his cousin, Charles Francis Adams. Upon his death, “a victim of the Florida war” that was an abomination to Adamses, they expressed their grief in verse and prose. Charles Francis Adams, not given to heedless praise, wrote: “In the circle of those whom it has been my lot to know in life, none have recommended themselves more by an accurate performance of all the duties of life than he” (entry for 5 Jan. 1838; also the note to 29 Jan. 1838, the entry for 19 March 1839, all below).

From the originals in the Adams Papers.