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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Thursday 20th

20 August 1863

Saturday 22d.

22 August 1863
21 August 1863
Friday 21st

My record begins to fall away again. I was busy in writing my letters to John and Charles, and disposing of much of external correspondence. Mr Field came in to see me, and to talk a little politics. The news by the Scotia arrived whilst he was with me, but it contained little of substance. Mr Walker likewise called, with a third pamphlet, a copy of which he gave me. Mr Whiting also came. This gentleman is now Solicitor of the War Department. He has been sent out to take the place of Mr Evarts, and as the newspapers declare to be an adviser to me in questions of international442 law. Ever since I have been here the government has been sending out agent after agent to do something. The inference of most people would be that I am, as the Duke of Dorset once was in Paris, only the nominal Minister, with informal subordinates to do the work. That this is not the intention of the government I fully believe. Their action has nevertheless hurt my position here. Perhaps I am not wise to show so little sensibility to it. In other circumstances perhaps I might. As it is I think I am serving my country better by taking that course. My personal grievances are nothign, whilst I believe myself better able to manage this critical mission than any body the President would be likely to substitute. I received Mr Whiting politely, explained the condition of the legal question, and intimated that in fact the absence of all leading men from London left nothing to be done. He soon got talking upon home politics, enlarged upon the state of the Cabinet and on the views of the President on the emancipation question. He disclosed his fear lest the pressure of the people disposed to return to the Union should induce him to retreat from the principle of the proclamation. He cautiously disclosed his apprehension of the influence of Mr Seward in that direction. He reported some kind things said of me by the President in his presence, and seemed to solicit some form of action by me or his mind respecting this matter. I replied that the subject had been much in my thoughts. Down to a late period there seemed no danger of any Slaveholding overtures to reconciliation likely to produce difficulty. The late accounts of discouragement since the fall of Vicksburgh threw more doubt upon it. Yet I did not foresee it as likely. My trust was that Mr Jefferson Davis’s influence would continue strong enough to keep matters in statu gros for some time to come. Meanwhile the emancipation and arming of the negroes would go on to such an extent as to render retreat impossible. This was the best practical solution of the problem that I could think of. If however matters should take a different turn, and I could do the least thing to stiffen the President in upholding the Proclamation443 I should cheerfully attempt it. I twas easy for me to introduce my views in a Despatch, in reference to the state of opinion here. He insinuated that were I to write it, such a paper would never reach the President’s eye, if it did not suit Mr Seward that he should see. All this betrays to me the traces of party feeling underneath. Mr Whiting suggested my writing a letter to him, which he would take care should be thoroughly examined by the President. This is a roundabout preceding bordering on intrigue. I will have nothing to do with it. I said no more however to him. Again a short walk, and evening devoted to the Diary.

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=DCA63d233