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connection with public affairs." This decision saddened him, and he was pained as he contemplated its effect upon his mind and temperament. He intended to turn his attention to something useful, and so employ his mind that it might not go to premature decay.
The cold, proud, reticent man, in his loneliness, appeals unintentionally to our sympathy. His position in many respects was the parallel of his father's, and he followed him to the same Quincy, in retirement, where the elder Adams died on the 4th of July, 1826. The Quincy horre he inherited; and he came back to the old controversy with his enemies of the Essex junto, recently so needlessly re-opened by his letter to Virginia. Mr. Adams had made his original communication to President Jefferson to stimulate a repeal of the embargo, which, however wise its enactment, was not wisely repealed, when it should have been ; and the detained ships were rotting at their own wharves, while their cargos were perishing. Mr. Adams feared that the depression produced by the embargo, working on already alienated minds, might precipitate disloyal action; and the communication was made in absolute good faith, for the best purpose. On this, his final return, thirteen of the gentlemen who supposed themselves assailed, wrote him a bitter letter demanding the names of the parties implicated, which he had never given. Mr. Adams replied, in good temper for him, that he had never given the names, and he declined to give them. His assailants rejoined with heat, hating him with an animosity as strong as when he left the federal party. Coming as it did ere he had recovered from the anguish of his crushing defeat, the assailed man set himself to the task of self vindication. Mr. Adams was usually in the right. He had preserved the evidence, and he now deliberately placed it in a pamphlet, where it is arranged in an effective way, strong, clear, incisive, bold, conclusive, and yet he did not publish it, nor did he in anyway rejoin to his assailants, and they died, not knowing how much they owed to this uncharacteristic for. bearance, which we wonder over. In these later years Charles Francis Adams has given the pamphlet to the world, which amply vindicates the original communication made to President Jefferson. In a literary view it is one of the happiest of Mr. Adams' many labors. Its composition may not have been a labor of love; withholding it was an act of unexpected generosity or forbearance. What was he now to do? He was still in full vigor, hale, though worn. He had been a versifier from youth, and he published a rhymed description of the conquest of Ireland. He plunged into the Latin classics ; he meditated a memoir of his father, and wrote the opening. The publication of this by his son occasions little regret that his plan was left unexecuted. Though fond of literature, few able men had less mental aptitude to become a successful writer.
AGAIN A MEMBER OF CONGRESS.
N the summer of 1826, William Morgan, a thriftless tailor, of Batavia,
New York, wrote an exposé of the secrets of Free Masonry. He was seized, carried to old Fort Niagara, and, it is generally believed, made way with. He certainly never returned. The event produced great excitement, aggravated by the alleged interference of members of the order, to prevent an investigation, and thwart the efforts made to prosecute parties charged with murder. The uprising against the order took a political form. The anti-Masonic party in western New York, cast seventy votes in 1829, and one hundred and twenty-eight in 1830. It spread to other states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Vermont, and elsewhere, and in 1832 ran Wirt for President, carrying Vermont, and probably diverting votes enough from Mr. Clay in Ohio, New York, and New Jersey, to re-elect General Jackson.
It was one of the charges of the Jackson men that Mr. Adams was a Mason ; which charge was attended with odium. He was never a Mason, though he did not deny this accusation. In September, 1830, the antiMasons and others, of the Plymouth district, which happily did not include Boston, by a formal delegation, offered Mr. Adams the Congressional nomination. They expressed the fear that, having been President, he would not accept. His reply was that he thought an ex-President might honorably accept the office of selectman, if elected by the people. The nomination for Congress was accepted and election followed. This post he continuously filled until his death, February 23, 1848, a period of seventeen years. During the year following his election to Congress, the anti-Masons of Massachusetts, nominated Mr. Adams for governor. The Everetts, and others, endeavored to induce the national republicans to accept him as their candidate, which it is believed they would have done, had it not been that it would re-open the old controversy with the federalists; as it was, each of
the three parties nominated a candidate. There was no election by the people. The national republicans had a majority in the legislature, in which the contest devolved, and elected their candidate, John Davis, who was advanced from that post to the senate. Mr. Adams would gladly have accepted an election as governor; his defeat only isolated him the more. For his greater mission, he was left solitary and independent of all men and parties. Mr. Adams took his seat in the twenty-second Congress in December, 1831. Viewed from the present standpoint, he seems to have stood alone, the one conspicuous figure of all the years of his service.
No man ever entered the House possessed of such vast stores of knowl. edge upon all subjects, or had his mental resources better at command, Conscientious in the discharge of all duties, punctual in attendance upon the sittings of Congress, he always voted and, though nominally of the national republicans, acted independently. Though called the “old man eloquent,” the name was hardly appropriate. He had no quality of the orator, and little that pertained to eloquence. His voice was shrill, piercing, and liable to break. Not a rhetorician, nor yet lacking fitting words, he always had matter pertinent to the subject in hand. With no fancy, no wit, no humor, he was always intensely in earnest. A good parliamentarian, he was a hard fighter, loving a close, bitter contest; a master of sarcasm and invective, irritable, quick tempered, and aggressive, he himself never knew how hard he hit; and careless of consequences, he was accustomed to stand alone, never counting opponents, and regardless of their quality. Ready to defend a pass against a host, or single handed attack an army in the field, he soon became not only the most conspicuous figure in Congress, but will probably remain the most remarkable in American parliamentary history. Nor has he any parallel in the annals of the British senate.
His days were days of strife, his career one of chronic war. Without allies or friends for several years, he was rich in enemies, and was seldom without a controversy on his hands. Like the French Marshal Massena, the heat, roar, and smoke of a battle, of his own seeking, seemed to clear his atmosphere, inspire, steady, and strengthen all his faculties. Though all men suffered who attacked him, he so exasperated the slaveholders and their allies that, blinded and reeling from his blows, a sort of fury possessed them to renew the attack. To their attacks he was impervious. There was no flaw in his character, no weakness in his armor, no mistake or fault in his information. Never caught at a weak point, nor in an unguarded hour, he was always alert, never wavering, never at a loss. Often losing temper but gaining strength and power by it, he never made a serious mistake, met a rebuff, lost a battle, or suffered a disadvantage. He was unlike any other man in the American Congress; stood so far apart from all men, that he can be compared with none. It is rather by contrasts that he is to be estimated. He had no followers. Admirers and friends could hardly touch him at the
point of sympathy. Men instinctively antagonized and prepared him for defense. Circumstances might compel coalitions; alliances with him were hardly possible. Men were assured of his sincerity, of his honesty, of his inflexibility of purpose, and this gave him power in the House, a great and growing influence in the nation.
It is barely possible for the younger generation to appreciate the thralldom in which the slave power held the north. A glance at the advantages already gained by the south, may help to a comprehension of its attitude, when Mr. Adams entered the House. On the formation of the national government no one attempted to justify slavery. It was permitted, and the African slave trade secured tolerance until 1808. Slavery was already prohibited in the Northwest territory, by the ordinance of 1787. The south had representation in the House based in part on her slaves. The northern states passed laws for the return of escaping slaves. These being unsatisfactory, four years after the organization under the Constitution, the first fugitive slave law was enacted by Congress. Already the Quakers of North Carolina had freed their slaves, which the state seized and sold. In 1800 Congress perpetuated the slave code in the newly created District of Columbia. In 1803 Louisiana was purchased. In 1804 the United States fought Tunis to free white slaves, and stole black ones from Africa. In 1806 intercourse with St. Domingo was broken off, because slaves there were in arms for freedom. In 1808 the foreign slave trade was abolished; coastwise and interstate slave traffic protected, thus securing a monopoly to the domestic producers of slaves. In 1810-11 Georgia sent an army into Florida to recapture slaves, and though at peace with Spain, Congress with closed doors connived at the seizure of Amelia island, which became a rendezvous for slavers and pirates. Spain complained, and the United States disclaimed. In 1816 Randolph pronounced a fierce philippic against the slave trade at the capital. In 1818, came the first Seminole war, for the capture of slaves, in which was blown up with hot shot old Fort Nichols, where fugitives had taken shelter. Of the captives, a few were handed over to the Indian allies for torture. The year 1820 saw the Missouri compromise, whereby slavery gained a kingdom and its northern supporters the name “doughface." In 1821 Florida was purchased. The “Maroons, children of slaves born there, were, by the treaty of purchase, to be protected, but a long war was waged for their capture and return to slavery. In 1826 the south fought the Panama mission in the interests of slavery, because it was feared that slavery might suffer in Cuba and Porto Rico, as well as at home. In Congress no voice had been raised in condemnation of slavery, save incidentally in the debates of 1820. Curiously enough, under Mr. Adams' championship of freedom, the whole controversy was conducted on the seemingly illogical issue of the right of petition, which
never made much figure in Congressional history, save in the time and under the lead of Mr. Adams against slavery.
Meantime the conscience of the North had been wonderfully quickened on the subject. Men were awakened to its moral, as well as political aspects; discussion arose, and action followed. Though Mr. Adams would have preferred the chairmanship of the committee on foreign affairs, a pending crisis with South Carolina on the subject of imposts, decided his appointment to the chairmanship of the committee on manufactures. Nullification really was one phase of the approaching struggle, though not necessarily connected with slavery. Mr. Adams deemed it wise to examine with care the subject of the tariff, with a view to such modification as might be just. Jackson's annual message of December 4, 1832, filled Mr. Adams with rage. In his judgment it was a total change of policy and a surrender to the nullifiers. Jackson's proclamation in reply to the ordinance of nullification, was more in accord with Adams' temper. The ultimate compromise, which . was a concession without a vindication of the underlying principle, was very distasteful to Adams, who would have compelled the state to abandon her position. Jackson was glad to have the matter adjusted, and aided the compromise. Had Adams been re-elected. President the matter would have otherwise terminated, and there might never have been a war of rebellion. In the main he was in opposition to the administration of General Jackson, though not from any feeling of personal rivalry. Jackson's final weakening to the nullifiers, his opposition to internal improvements, his characteristic war on the United States bank, and removal of the deposits, and his Kitchen cabinet, would have placed any independent man in opposition. In the matter of French spoliation Mr. Adams gave the administration efficient aid. A treaty had secured to this country five millions, as compensation for damages to American commerce, but it had never been paid. Jackson was determined to have it or fight. He sent a message to Congress recommending reprisals on French commerce, and ordered the American minister, Mr. Livingston, to demand his passports and go to London. The old hero so frightened his timid supporters, that he was in danger of being left in a ininority. As in his extremity for the Florida invasion, Mr. Adams came to his rescue, and by a telling speech turned the tide in his favor. Timely and important as it was, it gained no recognition from Jackson. The speech was in support of a cause, and not of the President personally. An intense egotist, in his own estimation he stood for all causes. It is said that R. M. Johnson, of Kentucky, once attempted to renew friendly relations between Jackson and Adams, and decided Jackson ought to make the first advance, which he refused to do. Later, when the President visited Boston, it was proposed that Harvard college confer on him the honor of doctor of laws. So absurd was this that Mr. Adams, who was a member of the board, opposed it, and afterward spoke of Jackson's learning in terms of contempt