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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Saturday 9th

9 March 1861

Monday 11th

11 March 1861
10 March 1861
Sunday 10th

Fine day. Attended Divine service. Mr Cutler preached, but my attention was not improved. Called on my way home to take leave of Mrs Smith. She was full of the gossip of the town about Mr and Mrs Lincoln, who are doing multitudes of strange things, in the midst of a population little disposed to favor. Mr Sumner came in to dine with us. He gives curious accounts of the errors on a large scale. The difficulty with Mr Lincoln is that he has no conception of the situation. And having no system in his composition he has undertaken to manage the whole thing as if he knew all about it. The first91 evidence of this is to be found in his direct interference in the removal of Clerks in the Department. The second is his nomination of persons suggested by domestic influence. In the evening we had visits from Governor Seward, and his son and daughter,and from Mr Eliot. Also a Captain Henry who came to express his good will to me on account of my course. He is a descendant of Patrick Henry and belongs to Virginia though he resides here. Governor Seward asked a private conversation in which he communicated to me the leading events in his relations with the President. He explained his own views of the policy to be adopted in foreign affairs, and the utter absence of any acquaintance with the subject in the chief. And as to men he was more blind and unsettled than as to measures. The nominations of Mr Judd and a german named Kreishman for his secretary, to Berlin were made without consultation, merely in fulfilment of a promise to give the former a Cabinet appointment, from which he had been compelled to give way. As to the mission to England Mr Seward had pointed out the necessity now existing to give it a high character and had named me as a fitting person. But he delicately gave me to understand that it was received with no favor. On the other hand Mr Schurz had pressed the President so hard to go to Sardinia that he had been obliged freely to state the objections to his nomination, and greatly to his surprise early the next morning, Mr Schurz called upon him, and soon let him know that he had been made the master of his most confidential communications. This had compelled him to a frank and decided conversation with Mr Schurz, which ended in his consent to withdraw himself. And the President declared himself greatly relieved at this interference of his secretary. It is plain from the exposure that he has nothing of purpose or system in his head, and that he is open to all sorts of influences except elevated ideas of his duty, Melancholy as this disclosure is, I confess it is not92 altogether unexpected. Ever since his first speech on his way here I have had a profound misgiving as to the truth. All that is now left to us is to trust in the power which his leading cabinet officers may gradually acquire over his mind. He is ignorant, and must have help. And the sense of the necessity may ultimately drive him into subserving to wiser counsels. How truly did I feel last Autumn the importance of the selection of Mr Seward. It is our only security now. With regard to myself and to Massachusetts against which he seems to be prejudiced, I am not particularly concerned. I told Mr Seward that I had never desired to go into the Cabinet, and now congratulated myself on the escape. That as to the mission, I would serve in it if it were considered by the Government that my agency was important. Otherwise I was well satisfied to occupy my present position, which was imposing enough to satisfy all my desires. This is strictly true. A close examination of my own heart shows a desire to have these places offered to me, and great doubt whether there is in the country a more eligible place for usefulness than my won. As to the Cabinet posts I am already clear in my mind that I have been fortunate, in keeping clear of them. And certainly a place abroad in the present distracted condition of the country cannot be greatly to be rejoiced in. The Governor then returned to the Drawing room, and soon afterwards all took leave. I ought to remark that the Governor was very cordial, and urged me to write to him whenever I had any thing to say during the Summer. Mrs Adams asked him to dine on Tuesday and he agreed to come.

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=DCA61d069