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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Wednesday 11th

11 September 1861

Friday 13th

13 September 1861
12 September 1861
Thursday 12th

Fine towards evening. Wrote letters all the morning. One to my son Charles. I had a visit too from Mr Andre’s Oseguera, Mexican Secretary of Legation to Paris. He brought me a letter from Mr Dayton. He said that he was sent by the Mexican Minister to confer with me on the subject of their affairs and to know whether I was in any way disposed to act upon this court. I said that however disposed I might be, I was not clothed with any power. Not a word had been said to me in my instructions on the subject. He then went into a full exposition of his case. He remarked upon the action of France and England in withdrawing from diplomatic relations with Mexico on a mere question of money. It was a mere pretext to cover the real purpose, which was intervention. He had the best reasons for believing that Napoleon was seriously meditating a plan for setting up a government there, and that both Great Britain and Spain were to be parties to it. The last was to furnish a land force, and the other two, the marine power with which to control the coast and to maintain possession. What the governing power was to be was not clear. It was the interest of Napoleon to conciliate the other powers in nominating some ruler not disagreeable to them. It might be one of the Orleans family whom it would be convenient to him to remove as far as possible from the theatre of Europe. But however the details might be, the fact was certain that intervention was the policy. The bearing of this on the present condition of the United States must be plain to me. The presence of a fleet to occupy the coast of Mexico, and the possession of the ports all the way to Matamoras would cover all the necessary facilities to evade the232 blockade of the Southern States and prepare the way for ultimate intervention there too. Mr O had reason to believe that Napoleon who had at one time learned to the northern side of the struggle, was since the battle of Bull run surging in the other direction. His passion for regulating the affairs of external nations carried him to form plans of interference every where. A regard for its own safety would prompt the United States to take measures to resist such an idea. There was now no difference on opposition of interests between them and Mexico. Both were pledged to the maintenance of republican principles, and both were opposed to the policy of the slaveholding interest. The United States in taking a lead in remonstrance would have the sympathy of all the countries of the Western continent, whilst it could scarcely fail to have an effect in Europe and especially in England. He hoped therefore that the government would receive from me such representations of what he had said as to induce it to act before it was too late. I briefly answered that I thanked him for his visit, hoped that he would communicate with me whenever he had any thing to say ,and promised to transmit a report of his remarks to the government in America. Amidst some things that are extravagant, there is much good sense in what he said. The cooperation of Spain, France and England to set up a prince from abroad in such a country as Mexico seems scarcely possible. The very suggestion of such a scheme ought however to be distinctly scented in every part of America. No such idea could have arisen at any other moment than this of our weakness. But it will not always be so, I trust. I went to walk again. Mrs Adams took my son Brooks back to school at Twickenham again today. I trust he may now begin to shew progress in regular studies. His mind developes now in irregular ways, which will profit him little unless he learns discipline.

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=DCA61d255