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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Wednesday 2d.

2 January 1861
1 January 1861
Tuesday 1st

A fine clear and rather cool day. As it is a holiday I spent the evening in writing answers to letters, many of which I am now receiving in various tones of remonstrance. The alarmed condition of the country is now taking a very different channel from that of concession, and my constituents are many of them alarmed at what they deem a sacrifice to the slave interest, on my part. I have written briefly to several of them merely to explain my grounds, but it is probable that I shall be compelled to make a speech on the subject presently. All the movements of a public man are critical in times of excitement, and if he means to impress himself strongly on events he must run great hazards. Feeling very confident of my grounds, and believing the policy to be wise at this moment I shall not trouble myself with a vindication just yet. The house was open for the reception of visitors and I went out myself to pay my respects to the speaker, and to General Scott, who was unwell and did not receive me. Also to Mr Seward, Mrs Eliot, General Cass and Judge Douglas. At the latter place I had some conversation with him about the present state of affairs. He talked very openly—said that a conspiracy had been entered into at Baltimore in June last to set up Mr Breckinridge as the candidate of the slaveholding states, with the hope of carrying them all in his favor. This was to be made a basis of a conspiracy to seize the government at the time of the Inauguration, and with the possessions of all the Departments to declare Mr Breckinridge actual President, and to claim the recognition of foreign powers as the de facto government. The failure to get the requisite votes, which had been caused by his going into the slave states and drawing off votes enough to turn the scale, had only changed the form of the plan. Another person had been set up and there was yet a conspiracy to seize this capital on the fourth of March, Here we were interrupted, and I took my leave. But the statement in connection with the late events developed in the Cabinet of far to give plausibility to the idea. We are certainly trading on embers. I thought Mr Seward was graver than usual today, and he talked much of the obligation of the people of this city to make preparation for defence. On the whole, I suspect there is something in it. The news today was that General Scott40 was not Secretary of War, but that Mr Holt had been made so ad interim it being understood that the policy of the government was to be changed. This was the only encouraging thing of the day. A story that Mr Thompson had resigned proved false. We dined quietly at home, and in the evening Captain Bridge came in for a short time.

Cite web page as:

Charles Francis Adams, Sr., [date of entry], diary, in Charles Francis Adams, Sr.: The Civil War Diaries (Unverified Transcriptions). Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2015. http://www.masshist.org/publications/cfa-civil-war/view?id=DCA61d001