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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Monday 30th

30 May 1864

Wednesday 1st

1 June 1864
31 May 1864
Tuesday 31st

The fatigue of riding sixty miles yesterday, and of standing so much, made me steady quiet a little during the day, which was cold and rainy. I had however several visits of interest. One from Mr Lloyd Aspinwall, who sent me the telegram from Crookhaven and also a letter with other telegrams from Mr Stanton down to the latest date. Another from Mr E. H. Lefevre, a French gentleman being a resident of Mexico, who brought me a note from Sir Charles Wyke. He gave me his impression of the state of things, and the latest information which he had. He spoke of a French rumor that Juarez had enlisted a body of thousand men from the United States. Other accounts had reduced it to a hundred. He characterized this as very grave. He had written articles for the Daily News and the Examiner, for the purpose of disseminating correct information; and he now came only to ask that he might be allowed to call from time to time either to impart or to obtain facts. I said I should be happy to see him. He alluded to his residence at New Orleans and his acquaintance with Pierre Soulé, whom he had since seen at the Havannah. He had heard him talk of the rebellion which he had never approved—and complain of his own fate in having his property in New Orleans confiscated, whilst Slidell and others had taken good care to transfer theirs to Europe in time, otherwise to cover it. Messr Sanz and Gutierrez, South America ministers also called to speak of an extraordinary act of hostility on the part of Spain in seizing the Chincha islands, news of which had just arrived. It does seem as if our unfortunate rebellion had initiated a sort of Saturnalia among European powers. Spain set the example in seizing Dominica. France followed suit in Mexico, and new Spain has recollected that it never acknowledged the independence of Pene, and trumps up a claim for satisfaction which it proceeds at once to make good by force. Cowardly and rapacious, the time must come when these pretensions at least in America must be once for all put down. What is called the Monroe doctrine wa a wise and far seeing policy, which through in abeyance by reason of the insanity of the slaveholders, must be presently36 insisted upon, or there will be no personal safety in the Western hemisphere Mr Sanz seemed to desire me to proceed at once in some form of remonstrance here. I could not make out what, as he talks only very bad French. Mr Gutierrez explained as well as he could. I said that no action of mine could be of use that did not rest upon instructions. It was these that gave weight to representations. I had not yet received any. I thought it not unlikely that some information might reach me by the next Steamer. If it should I might then find myself in a situation to give an answer. Mr Sanz on going away came back alone to say something about a special agent going from here for the purpose of purchasing some vessels of war in New York, and sounded me about my disposition to give him some letter of recommendation. I had such an experience in the case of General Lerman, that the idea of a letter gives me at once a disagreeable association of ideas. I asked him to put his wish in writing, and I would consider of it. I agreed to see him again on Thursday. Last of all came Mr Scott Russell. He read to me a draught of a letter to Mr Yeatman explaining the present position of the question, and precisely how it has been left by the government at Washington. I assented to the correctness of the representative of my papers. He read to me a letter from Yeatman at Edinburgh which reports Mr Jefferson Davis. On reading the plan, it would appear that he gave it as his opinion that the people of the South were generally weary of the war, and would gladly accept their plans in settlement of the matter. I again pointed out to Mr Russell the necessity of getting information how this really was. Mr Yeatman had not given us any light upon what became of the plan as sent out in advance to Richmond, and in what condition the question had been placed in Richmond. All idea of further acting through him must be framed upon the probability of results to be reached there. Mr Russell had suggested the expediency of sending him out at once and directly to that place. I said that this would37 scarcely be advisable unless there was strong reason to presume some favorable issue. Even if he were to go, in the actual condition of the case, it would be idle to expect any good from Mr Yeatman as a pacificator. He could only labor to get some substitute. To this Mr Russell assented. He thought Mr Y might be made of use to put the thing in a good train. At present he had written that he was trying to make something out of some lectures in Scotland, to subsist him until he should get a remittance from Richmond. Such are the straits to which these poor people are reduced! He intimated that we might advance him some means to help him go. I said I would, provided I could learn exactly have the prospect was. Surely he must have kept Mr Davis informed of all his adventures. If so, it was due to us, that we should be exactly apprised of the views at this time taken of his adventures. I was fearful of some deception, or delusion which might lead us astray. The missing link in our chain was the mount of authority. It was to find that he first went out. His great mistake in opening a discussion before ever he had tried, but spoilt his plan. I should be glad if he could now return his steps. The duty devolved on him now to show that he could. I hoped he might have some means at hand. Mr Russell seemed to thank that owing to the knowledge of his intention to leave England, probably no advices had been sent to him. At any rate he should try to ascertain, and let me know the result of his inquiries. My hopes were strong when he went. They are now very weak. Stiff if the bread prove to have been really thrown upon the waters, perhaps we may yet find it after many days. The end is full worth any amount of effort to scarce. Had it pleased God to furor the messenger the many thousands of lives sacrificed during the past month might have been saved. It is moot for me to question the decrees of the Divine providence ever from the darkest evil educing good. After a quiet dinner at home, we all attended a reception at the Duke of Durnshire’s. It was much less crowded than on former occasions, and therefore a good deal pleasanter. The ordinary crowd of a London rout. Home at midnight.38

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=DCA64d152