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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Wednesday 30th

30 January 1861

Friday February 1st

1 February 1861
31 January 1861
Thursday January 31st

I slept badly as I have done for several nights. I had a cold and was feverish, and the anxiety and excitement attending the effort I was to make this day made me nervous and uncomfortable. At the House, where Mr Farnsworth came to me and said that he had no desire to stand in my way at all, but he wished by withdrawing to place the Speaker under the necessity of recognizing him afterwards. I told him that I was much obliged to him for his courtesy, but that I must refer him to the Speaker to determine the question, and was ready to abide by any arrangement he should make. We then took up the deficiency bill and began a discussion upon that, in such a manner that I was inclined to doubt whether I should get in at all. That I did get the floor was due to the assiduity of my friend Buffington, who persuaded Mr Corwin to move that the Committee rise on the deficiency bill and for the purpose of giving the floor to me. Mr Sherman concurred in it on the condition that it was be only for me. And thus it was arranged. The House then gather round me, and I addressed them for an hour and twenty minutes, in silence so that you could have heard a pin drop. There was applause in the galleries several times and at the close such a rush of congratulation as completely overwhelmed me. No similar triumph as been witnessed here for a long time. Many pronounced the speech to be the finest delivered this session, and others declared that I had equalled the best of my race. So that if I was not so old, perhaps my head might62 be turned by it. I only feel grateful that I have been enabled to meet the occasion suitably. I may thus be so situated as to mark the close of one era of American history, through which our name has been associated with its glory from beginning to end. We are about to enter upon the second, which may mark our degeneracy. I have no further desire for public life. My ambition which never was great has reached its culmination. I could hardly have dared to hope that I should have been so successful. At home there will be undoubtedly much discontent stirred up I suppose by the dissatisfaction of my friend Sumner, who did not shew himself in the House to hear me. But for that I care little. I believe the cause I take to be the right one both of the present and for the future, and resting upon that I seek little either the approbation or the censure of the world. The House seemed in little mood to do business afterwards, and they voted a recess until seven o’ clock. At dinner, we had Mr Everett and Mrs Wise, Mr and Mrs Eames, Mr Winthrop and Mr Clifford. It was lively enough, though my cold made feel very uncomfortably. Mr Kuhn arrived from Philadelphia whilst we were at dinner. The gentlemen were all very complimentary to me. I forgot to say in its place Mr Hayes, the reporter, applied for my speech to send it by telegraph to the newspapers at New York.

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=DCA61d031