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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Thursday 21st

21 January 1864

Saturday 23d.

23 January 1864
22 January 1864
Friday 22d.

Cloudy again Busy in writing my private letters which were limited to my sons. For although I hope Charles may be on the way I do not remit my regular practice until I am sure of it. I had other letters on my table which should have been answered, but I must await the return of Henry, as these are recorded. I had asked Lord Russell for a conference so he appointed it at four o’clock today. After a delay of half an hour in company with Mr Tricompi in the antichamber, I saw him. My errand however was about small matters. There was a petition to the Queen from some citizens of Boston praying that some notice might be taken of Dr Morton, which has been on my table for some time. It is none of my business to be the medium of such a communication, and it is moreover very awkward to prefer any requests whatever of a personal kind from strangers. I started the case very frankly, and he took it in very good part. He suggested that I should write him an unofficial note and send it with the papers, which eh could had over to Sir George Grey. I acceded to the plan at once, and promised to write the note. I next referred to a complaint which I had been directed to make against the son of the Consul at San Juan in Porto Rico. My difficulty had been that his name was not given in the Despatch on the subject, neither could I find by application to the official list that there was any consul at all at that place. His Lordship did not seem to know much about it, but he called up me of the Under Secretaries, Mr Murray, who seemed quiet as much at a loss. But he went off to look, and presently returned saying that there were but three British consuls in Porto Rico, and neither of them was stationed at San Juan. This was just as much as I had already discovered at home. But it excused me from pursuing553 the subject. Of course, I said, if there was no consul at San Juan, there could be no son to complain of. Thus we got pretty good natured, and I ventured to touch on a more serious topic. This was the intimation I had been directed to give of the probability of a rescinding of the reciprocity Treaty if something effective was not done in the way of checking these audacious enterprises of the rebels from British territory as a base. In the very formal note which I had written closely upon the instructions given me, i had ventured to omit all reference to this matter. On paper it looked to me much like saying if you do not behave yourself better, well cut off your sugar plums. I though I could manage it better in conversation, in which no record remains, for third parties to more mischief with. I spoke of the feeling in American growing out of these projects, alluded to the passage in the report of Mr Mallory which bold avowed sending them and then said that the first effect of it was what he mush have seen in the latest intelligence from there, a manifestation in Congress of a disposition to break up the reciprocity Treaty. I did not think the government inclined to distrust the arrangement. In many respects it was a good one. But the occasion might suddenly arise when the popular feeling might control all opposition. He knew what that was in Parliament, as well as we. From this I went on to under my ground. I remarked that the time seemed approaching when it would because they duty of my government to direct its attention very much to the labor of reconstruction. On many accounts it was desirable that its relations with Foreign powers should be firmly fixed. On this question of tolerating these reckless adventurers now turned all the discontent there was in England. Since active step seemed all that was necessary to make things safe. At present, we thought that England appeared too much in the light of giving to these reckless people all the advantages of a recognition of them as belligerents, whilst it forelore to call them to any responsibility for their outrageous abuse of their privileges. His Lordship replied that they did not seem to think themselves favored. Mr Jefferson Davis and the Herald here had charged him with being partial to us. I said Yes. Nothing would satisfy them but recognition. Their object was to blow up a war. It was this last that made me so anxious to disappoint them. I then enlarged upon554 the evidence that was continually flowing to me of the practices of these people. They were unremitting in their efforts to supply the vessels on the other side of the channel with every thing, men, arms, powder, stores, with which to go out and attack us. Surely such conduct as this ought not to be tolerated. His Lordship then went so far as to admit that he had proposed to the Cabinet to send out a vessel with an Officer who should go to Richmond and make a representation in regard to this conduct. But it had not been deemed advisable, for it might have led to consequences, and appearing to take a side. I replied that this was what ought to be done. It would have the proper effect both with them and with us. Soon afterwards I took my leave. I report these conversations more at large here, because I have ceased to put them into my Despatches. They are evidently friendly and not official, so that I will not subject his Lordship to the risk of seeing them return in print. Home where I dined and spent the evening alone. Read the Edinburgh review for a wonder.

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=DCA64d022