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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Wednesday 25th

25 November 1863

Friday 27th

27 November 1863
26 November 1863
Thursday 26th

Started for town in the train at 9”40’, which takes three hours and twenty minutes to go. I lost nothing by the delay, as I found myself completely alone in my carriage, and was enabled to meditate my speech more thoroughly than commonly happens. In general I seldom get more than half way, and leave the end to take care of itself. Scarcely an hour and a half was left me at home, and part of that was taken up by a visit from Colonel Ritchie The designated hour of assembling was three o’clock, but it was much later before the whole company had gathered. There might have been a hundred person of whom I knew not more than perhaps a dozen. Mr Walker was the presiding officer, and not very familiar with his duty. The arrangements were however simple and effective. As I shall ship in the programme between these pages it will dispense with description. The proclamation which is very good, and which therefore never emanated from Mr Lincoln’s pen was tolerably read. The prayer was made by Mr I Sella Martin, the colored preacher, and was generally impressive. The hymn which was furnished anonymously and does not amount to much was sung; All these before going to dinner.509 The entertainment itself was very good in quality and well served. I sat on the right of the President, and Captain Hadley of the army sat next to me. After the serving was completed Mr Walker made a long address, which I perceived he read from a printed paper in his hand. It was not wanting in force and would have been more effective if it had been delivered with less strain on the voice, and vehemence of manner. It is wonderful how a stay in England calms down the strain of exaggeration customary in America. For myself, though not esteemed prone to it there, I constantly feel how much I have toned down since I came here. The next thing was the toast to the President, to which it was for me to respond. Mr Walker insisted upon making a preface bringing up my father and grandfather in a way which I was once so persecuted with in America, but which now only makes me smile. When he had finished I began. The press here had sneered at the notion of a thanksgiving in the midst of a desolating civil war. I thought it a good opportunity, whilst avoiding the topic of victories over our fellow countrymen which necessarily take a shade of sadness, to explain more exclusively the causes of rejoicing we had in the restoration of a healthy national solidity in the government since the announcement of the President’s term. I went over each particular in turn. The result is to give much credit to Mr Lincoln as an organizing mind, perhaps more than individually he may deserve. But with us the President as the responsible head takes the whole credit of successful efforts. It certainly looks now as if he would close his term with the honor of having raised up and confirmed the government, which at his accession had been shaken all to peices. And this a raw, inexperienced hand has done in the face of difficulties that might well appall the most practised statesman! What a curious thing to History! The real men in this struggle have been Messr Seward and Chase. Yet the will of the President has not been without its effect even though not always judiciously exerted. My Speech through somewhat longer that usual was well received. Soon afterwards I went home for the purpose of correcting the reporter’s notes. How much I found to abridge and to improve! Did not finish until near midnight.510

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=DCA63d330