A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Wednesday 30th

30 December 1863
31 December 1863
Thursday 31st

A dark morning with drizzle and rain towards night. The newspapers all contain a review of the events of the year, written according to the predictions of each. It has been an eventful one to us in America. The effect is to establish our superiority as a power beyond all reasonable doubt. Severe as the struggle has been the issue of the issue of the forcible recovery of the navigation of the Mississippi, of the conflict on our own ground at Gettysburg and in the possession of the Tennessee Valley, is decisive. The so called Confederacy is now reduced to three States and half which could not stand up long, if left entirely to themselves. Such is the issue of the third campaign. The effort of some of the English pass to get round this is amusing. The reasoning has ceased to provoke me. My time was much occupied in my customary weekly duty of writing. I had a visit from one of the partners of the legal firm of Fladgate, Clarke and Finch. The purpose was to confer with me in regard to the question made upon a remaining seem of five thousand pounds which has fallen in by the death of an annuitant, to the bequest made to the United States by the late Mr Smithson. The only obstacle to the payment is raised by the collector of internal533 revenue who after a series of delays and prevarication has finally decided to attempt to intercept the money by bringing a suit for unpaid legacy duties on the Estate of Smithson’s brother settled by him about forty years ago. This gentleman who had been requested by Professor Henry to consult me now came to submit the facts more fully than the papers had done which he had already furnished. I said to him that to me the whole proceeding looked unworthy of this nation. But if it was to go on I did not perceive that the United could resist it with any self respect. The money had been given to them as Trustees for great public objects. If it was decided to belong them, they would do their duty by it. If on the contrary it was not their’s, they would by no means be eager to obtain it. There was no other course than to await with patience the decree of the Court. The gentleman concurred with me in my view, and said he should so report to Professor Henry. I had also a visit from Mr Richmond who has received a free pardon from the Queen, and is about to return home. He is a plain looking man with a tolerably amiable countenance. He came to ask about the best mode of recovering the money taken from him by the Judge. I advised him to go to the consul and make a case on paper, which I would present to the government. The tendency of Americans to develope their frail tendency in a foreign country is admirably hit off by Mr Hawthorn in his latest work. I urged him immediate return home, and promised to see his money taken care of if restored. Long walk, and quiet solitary evening.

And so the year 1863 ran to its end. A year to me and mine of uninterrupted prosperity—in which my dear boy about whom we all live in anxiety has by the blessing of God escaped in safely from many perils dire, and all the rest of us have with the single exception of Louisa lately been favoured with health. In the midst of the distresses of the times I can only acknowledge my unworthiness of the bounties showered on me and my constant prayers that I may make myself in ever a small degree less undeserving of these manifold mercies.534

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=DCA63d365