Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Sunday. 28th.

Tuesday. 30th.

Monday. 29th. CFA


Monday. 29th. CFA
Monday. 29th.

A strange variation of all kinds of weather until it settled towards night clear and cold. I went to the Office where I received various letters. Mr. John Parker met me and spoke in exceedingly high terms of my Pamphlet so that my work is not absolutely lost.1 I also got a letter from my Mother in which she repeats a saying of Mrs. Smith that it is the best thing on the Currency that has appeared, more significant as betraying the sources from which she gets her information than from any expression of her own opinion.2 And my father writes a curious letter deserving of reflection.3

Called at the Probate Office to see about poor Thomas’ affairs and then to see Judge Leland as I must go out into Norfolk. Call from N. Curtis about a Mortgage which I agreed to look into. Letter from T. B. Johnson doleful enough,4 he begs for remittance and I can find none here. So I conclude to send to Sidney Brooks to New York,5 and my time was entirely taken up the remainder of the day in writing and copying various letters. T. K. Davis came in at about five returning my Lecture and staid until nearly eleven in conversation.


John Parker was a wealthy Boston merchant and friend of Peter C. Brooks; see vol. 4:374.


“Last Even’ Aunt Kitty [LCA’s sister, Mrs. William Steuben Smith] was here. ... She was full of the Sub-Treasury; and rattled off Finance, as I rattle nonsense; until I actually stared at the extent of her knowledge. She pronounced your pamphlet the very best that has been written on the subject of the Currency, and as she is generally the echo of many who know what is what, you must understand this is a great compliment” (LCA to CFA, 23–26 Jan., Adams Papers; filed and filmed under 23–26 March 1838, Microfilms, Reel No. 509).


The passages in JQA’s letter of 25 Jan. (Adams Papers) upon which CFA would likely reflect:

“[Thomas B. Adams Jr.] was almost a son to me; and I like you had flattered myself with hopes, that a long career of usefulness and honour was before him to contribute with you to sustain the credit of the name and family when I shall sleep with my fathers. This hope is gone and the whole burden henceforth rests upon you.”

“I have read with great pleasure and some profit your second pamphlet upon the currency, though it does not fall in with the views of any of the political financiers of the present time. You have shown the desideratum, the bold leading Statesman, but you have not touched upon its cause; and will perhaps not believe me when I tell you what it is. The Cause is slavery. The only bold Statesman now on the Stage in this Country is John C. Calhoun. And his boldness is just like Spirit in a horse, which Shenstone says is fear. Calhoun’s bravery is 390cowardice—Fear of his own Slaves. ... Calhoun’s Anti-Bankism is Nullification; and Nullification is the Litany of Slavery. I am heartily glad that you have kept yourself entirely aloof from this abolition and Anti-Slavery excitement. Keep yourself still aloof from it as long as you possibly can. Settle your own principles well before you begin to act upon them. I say settle them well, because I doubt whether you have yet settled them; but you must do it. I think you are not ready to carry out to their necessary consequences the self-evident Truths of the Declaration of Independence, and I advise you to be in no hurry to do it. Edmund Quincy I see has taken his stand. I think he has done right, but do not wish you to follow his example.”

What seems to be the fruit of CFA’s further reflection on his father’s words and on similar sentiments of his mother is contained in his letter to LCA, 25 Feb., Adams Papers: “You say Edmund Quincy is eloquent. So he is. ... But should you admire it in me, if I was to throw myself into that bottomless pool of fanaticism, the Garrison abolition, to talk as Whitfield might talk, or to reason as Mahomet might reason[?] There is but one step between such language as his and the battlefield, notwithstanding his disclaimer of the war spirit. Slavery is a great practical evil afflicting the human race and involving an extraordinary perversion of the moral sense, but in my humble opinion the remedy is not to be found in arsenic or in lobelia and Thomsonian treatment. Extravagance instead of giving point to truth blunts its effect. ... I am ... disposed to think well of the moral results which our Abolition movements may unintentionally produce, but this is a very different thing from throwing one’s self for ever and aye, headlong into them.”


Letter missing.


CFA to Sidney Brooks, 29 Jan., LbC, Adams Papers.