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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Friday 29th

29 November 1861

Sunday Decr 1.st

1 December 1861
30 November 1861
Saturday. 30th.

The law Offices of the crown have modified their opinion as I supposed, and now the dogs are all let loose in the newspapers. The position of Great Britain now is that the offence requires apology and restitution of the men because the commander of the San Jacinto did not do enough. If he had seized the despatches and captured the vessel, had taken her into New York and condemned her as prize with a million of specie on board, then the question would have been perfectly clear. There would be no outrage and the United States might have enjoyed her capture in peace. But as the case now stands, the insult is intolerable. The delicacy of the Captain not to push his advantage to a legal termination renders the whole act unjustifiable. Like the frail sister, whose indignation at the attempt on her honor was tremendous the moment she discovered that her pursuer was frightened off the chase. If he had been more daring there would have been no artery. Yet on such a miserable issue is the peace of fifty millions of people to be staked! The tone now taken is of such a kind that I must make up my mind to vacate this post some time in January. I care little for this, but the position of my own country300 awakens my most profound anxiety. I can hardly conceive the madness which can have prompted the Administration for so paltry a prize as these two men to hazard a difficulty with any foreign nation whatever. I was busy writing, and reading the history of the United States during the time that Great Britain revelled in the delight of taking myriads of men out of our vessels. When she has quarreled with us she has always brought on a war by her own arrogance. She has no right to make an argument on this question. But on the other had we who resisted them ought not to copy her example now. Each party seems disposed in its precipitation to falsify its past pledges. And for us what a time to select to do it. I cannot bear to think of it. We expected further news by the Persia tonight but it did not come. I took a long walk in the evening, and afterwards continued Mr Senior’s collection of the letters of Tocqueville. My son Brooks came to stay over Sunday.

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=DCA61d334