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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Thursday 19th

19 September 1861

Saturday 21st

21 September 1861
20 September 1861
Friday 20th

Slight drizzle followed by a fine day. I finished up my private letter writing for the mail bag in very good season, so that I was clear of work by three o’ clock. I had visits also from Mr Sanford and Mr Motley, both of whom came to dine with me. The former seemed very anxious to explain the both of us his agency in the invitation extended to Garibaldi to go to America. This matter has given occasion to a good deal of unpleasant remark in Europe, as indicating that we did not feel competent to manage our business, with our own Offices. I had been consulted about it by Mr Lucas, who wished authenticity to contradict it, which I could not give him excepting insofar as the story affirmed that the supreme command had been offered to him. I gave him on Tuesday my version of the matter, which was this. That probably some irresponsible individual had first sounded him as to his disposition to go. Then that the government on receiving information of this had authorised an offer of admitted. That Garibaldi had demanded a general power, which could not be admitted. That Garibaldi had demanded a general power, which could not be admitted, and the negotiation had gone off on this issue. My conjecture proved in the main correct, though there were material additions in the narrative of Mr Sanford. It seems that one James W Quiggle, officiating as consul at Antwerp, some time since whilst travelling in Italy made acquaintance enough with Garibaldi to induce him to volunteer a letter of enquiry as to his feeling on the American question. The reply was of such a kind as to induce Mr Quiggle to send a copy to the Department of State. This had brought a letter of instructions to Mr Sanford to go and make Garibaldi an offer for a position of Major General, being the highest army rank in the gift of the President, At the same time it eulogized Mr Quiggle and directed Mr Sanford to offer him any place under the General that he might prefer. Sanford professing to be well aware of the responsibility resting on him, and desirous of keeping the control of the matter in his hands, yet puts off first of all to Mr Quiggle and reads him the instruction as well as the compliment to himself. Quiggle insists upon seeing and reading it is concerning enough to take a copy, and then on the strength of it anticipates poor Sanford by238 writing at once to Garibaldi to apprize him that the government had forwarded him a formal invitation to take the supreme command in America, of which he would receive due notice presently. Finding this misconception fastened on the mind of Garibaldi by this folly of his own, his next task was to remedy the evil in the best way he could. Accordingly he goes to Turin where he finds a friend of Garibaldi who has come from him to notify the king of Sardinia that he is ready to go America if his services are not wanted in Italy. In other words he threatens to withdraw this aid of his popularity ot the King if he refuses to advance forthwith upon Rome. The King is too wary to be drawn into the trap, so with great professions of good will reluctantly grants his consent to the chief’s departure. It follows that Garibaldi mortified at the failure of his scheme has no resource but to execute his threat. But here again Mr Sanford is compelled to intervene to protect the American Government from the effects of Garibaldi’s misconception. To that end he pays him a visit and discloses to him the fact that he can have a command, but not the supreme control. This of course changes his views again. He cannot think of going to America without having the power of a Dictator and the contingent right to proclaim emancipation to the slaves. On this point the negotiation went off. A strange medley of blunders. Garibaldi however felt so awkwardly placed by his failure to carry the king off his feet, that he still clung to the idea of paying a visit to America as a private citizen. Mr Sanford offered him every facility to go out as a guest, but he declined it all, and finished by saying that if he decided to go it should be in his own way. This seems to me a luck escape. For our Officers have too much sense of honor not to feel that the introduction of a foreigner to do their work is a lasting discredit to themselves. At best it is little more than a clap-trap. Mr Seward is unquestionably a statesman of large and comprehensive views, but in his management of his Office he betrays two defects. One a want of systematic and dignified operation in the opinion of the world—the other, an admixture239 of that earthly taint which comes from early training in the school of New York State politics. The first shows itself in a somewhat brusque and ungracious manner towards the representatives of foreign nations— The second, in a rather indiscriminate appliance of means to ends. Mr Sanford evidently felt that he had not gained much in this melée, but I made no remark beyond expressing a fear of the effect upon Generals Scott and McLellan. Soon after this exposition Mr Motley left us to go to the Theatre, and Mr Sanford bid us Goodbye to return in the morning.

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=DCA61d263