Adams Chronicles (1976)

 

 

 

Director:     Fred Coe,  Bill Glenn,  Anthony Page,  Paul Bogart,  James Cellan Jones,  Barry Davis.

Starring:     Julia Barr (Molly Adams),  John Beal (Charles Francis Adams),  Susan Bjurman (Fanny Adams),  Peter Brandon (Henry Adams),  James Broderick (W. H. Holcomb),  Nancy Coleman (Abigail Brooks Adams),  William Duell (Photographer),  Patricia Elliott (Minnie Adams),  Paul Hecht (Jay Gould),  Alan Hewitt (Frederick L. Ames),  Walter Mathews (Senator Hoar),  George Morfogen (Vanderbilt Representative),  Nicholas Pryor (John Quincy Adams II),  Roger Serbagi (Crane),  Charles Siebert (Charles Francis Adams II),  Edwin Steffe (Sidney Dillon),  Charles Tenney (Brooks Adams),  Kenneth Tigar (Secretary),  Michael Tolan (Narrator),  Richard Woods (Morgan Representative). 

 life of 4 generations of the Adams family of Massachusetts

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire mini-series.  

Chapter 1.  John Adams, Lawyer. 

This is the story of four generations of one family, their lives and causes over 150 years of American history. 

John Adams sits down to write his memoirs.  It is his 67th year of life and it is October 5, 1802.  He says that his life has been the object of much misrepresentation.  He was born in 1758 in the colony of Massachusetts, a Harvard graduates sometime school master and a faithful subject of the British crown. 

Flashback.  George of Hanover, Prince of Wales, will be the new king.  But sovereign and subject are separated by 3,000 miles.  Unbeknownst to both of them, they are on a collision course.

John rides to town to see Jeremiah Gridley, Barrister.  John tells the man that he has been studying law with Mr. Putnam and he now needs a patron who will recommend him to the bar in Boston.  He has been with Mr. Putnam for three years.  He currently resides in Baintree, Massachusetts. Gridley gives John a hard time.  He tells John:  "No, sir, I cannot recommend you to the bar."  John keeps discussing the matter until Gridley tells him to come to court tomorrow and he will recommend him. 

Sam Adams, a cousin to John Adams, comes to Baintree to speak with John. He wants John to go back with him to Boston, but John says he won't go back.  He has already had several failed cases up in Boston.  He says:  "I'm a failure."  Sam changes the subject to say that John has an invitation go to to Weymouth.  He will dine at the home of Mr. Crantz's fiancť Miss Smith, daughter of Parson Smith.  The important thing is that Miss Smith has two charming sisters.  John says he is not good with the ladies. 

 John has dinner at Parson Smith's house.  He is busy cracking nuts at the dinner table.  A toast is offered to "our most gracious King George" III.  Abigail Smith says she would like to wait before saying that the King is o.k.   The Parson tells John that he would like him to deal with a property law dispute.  When John speaks with Abigail she tells him not to worry so much about the property dispute because it is a 50 year long dispute over the land.  Abigail asks him if he is in love with anyone.  John says: "I am insensitive in these matters."  Further on in the conversation John learns that Abigail loves to read Shakespeare and Pope.  He tells her that these two authors are his favorites too. 

John is in court.  He wins the case.  He goes over to the Smith farm.  He tells Abigail that he came primarily in hopes of seeing her alone.  He tells Abigail that she is the most honest woman he has ever met.  Further conversation leads to John telling Abigail that he lusts after fame.  He also says it's true he has an icy silence about him but the silence hides something not so quiet.  He describes himself as a person most susceptible to passion.  Abigail comments:  "Mr. Adams, are you trying to tell me that you are human?"  They kiss.

Abigail tells her parents that she wants to marry Mr. Adams.  Her mother says they had greater hopes for her.  Her grandfather, after all, was Colonel Quimby.  Mr. Adams is so stiff and awkward, says mother.  Abigail says, but he loves me.  She says it several times in fact.   But, her mother says she will have to leave in poverty being married to a country lawyer.  Abigail doesn't care.  She says she will marry Mr. Adams if he asks her to marry him.  In fact, she will marry him even if he doesn't ask her. 

Two years later the couple marry.  Mother Smith cries a great deal at the wedding.  John takes Abigail to his farm.  He asks her if she likes the house and she says yes.  Unfortunately, he will be away quite a bit riding the circuit court.  They kiss on the bed. 

A proclamation by the King  for levying new taxes and duties for the colonies is hung up for all to see.  Many call it taxation without representation.  John writes a criticism of the new taxes.  Sam again encourages John to come to Boston, but John says they are happy in Baintree.  Sam says the political critique John wrote attracted a lot of attention but people think that Gridley wrote it.  John should come to Boston to make sure everyone knows that he's the author. 

At night Abigail tells John that maybe they should move to Boston.  He's gone for days on end and she gets so lonely.  In Boston he might be able to find enough work to keep him home.  Indeed, it may even be his duty to move to Boston. 

In the newspaper the headline reads that Hancock's sloop Liberty has been seized.  Part of the story is that customs agents have been assaulted.  Hancock comes to speak to lawyer John Adams.  The case goes to court. 

At home baby Susana Adams has become a little sick.  Her condition worsens and she dies.  John and Abigail attend the funeral along with Nabby.  Riding in the coach from the funeral John tells his wife that he wishes she would cry rather than hold her feelings in.  She says it's going to hurt either way and it doesn't make it hurt any less just because she is pregnant again.   

A British sentry is taunted and pelted with snowballs and other things by an angry Boston crowd.  He starts ringing the sentry bell to call for assistance.  John and other men are sitting in a tavern working on a statement of which British demands they won't support.   One of their stands is that they will not pay for the quartering of British troops in Boston.  They hear the sentry bell being rung and are a bit curious as to what's going on.  They find out soon enough as wounded men are brought in to the tavern helped by other men.  British troops fired at a crowd of Bostonians on King Street.  

A man named James Forrest comes to see John Adams.  He wants John to take the case for the British troops.  He says that Captain Preston was provoked and that the troops only fired in self-defense.  But no one will take the case.  John thinks about it for a bit and announces that he will take the case.  He says it's very important for accused men to have an honest defense. 

With Abigail John wonders if he is seeking his own prestige or justice for the British troops?  He says:  "I'm certain I will bring us to ruin and contempt."  He says he's a victim of his own unyielding vanity seeking "glory before all else."   

Chapter 2.  John Adams, Revolutionary. 

John Adams goes to speak with the accused British troops.  His cousin Sam can't believe he will be representing the Brits.  But John insists that the men must have a fair trial.  The troops are accused of killing five men  in an unarmed crowd.  The verdict is that all of the defendants are found not guilty except for Matthew Kilroy and Hugh Montgomery who are found guilty of manslaughter.  When John leaves the courtroom the "patriots" give him a hard time.  Many accuse him of supporting the Crown.  Concerned about possible repercussions on  his family, the family returns to Baintree. 

News spreads that the judges for the colonies will be paid by the Crown.  The patriots says that the judges will now be the King's men.   John Hancock and John Adams speak about the matter.  Hancock thinks that John is keeping too low of a profile.  He even goes so far as to call him a coward.  John goes home to speak with Abigail about the matter.  He tells her:  "It was God's truth in the mouth of a mad man."  He sits down and writes a political statement.  He says the tax on tea was indeed too much for the colonists to accept.  Moreover, the people of Boston refuse to pay for the tea that the "Indians" threw in Boston Harbor.  The British respond to the stand of the colonists by blockading the harbor with British ships. 

A Continental Congress will meet in Philadelphia in September.   One subject to be discussed is the planned relief of Boston.  Five delegates will be send from Boston:  James Bowdon, Thomas Cushing, Robert Treat Paine, Sam Adams and John Adams.  John will be gone for two months.  Abigail tells him that he has never even been out of New England and she is afraid for his safety.  And she says that she would like to travel and see a bit more of the world. 

John tells Abigail that he will not get dressed up for Philadelphia, because his cousin Sam never gets dressed up and he doesn't want to outshine him.  But much to John's surprise, Sam shows up in a really spiffy outfit.  Apparently, patriotic supporters bought the new clothes for him.  From Philadelphia John writes that Philadelphia is no Boston. Boston and its people have better manners, better morals and are more handsome.  There are 56 delegates at Philadelphia, but the talk of independence from Britain comes primarily from the New England delegates. 

Abigail is all alone with the children in the farm house.  She hears a constant banging and has to investigate the source of the noise.  She looks inside the house and then outside.  To investigate the outside of the house she grabs her husband's rifle.  She discovers that the wind has been blowing the water bucket back and forth against the walls of the well.  She unties the bucket and places it down on the ground. 

John gets a letter from Abigail saying that the enemy is 8,000 strong.  The colonists desperately need gun powder.  John gets into a dispute with delegate Dickinson from Pennsylvania.  Sam garbs him and pulls him to the side.  He scolds him for arguing with the man.  He tells John to stand silent and let the South do the work for them. 

Abigail writes that the family has all been struck by a violent dysentery.  The youngest boy, Tommy, is very ill.  Their house has become a virtual hospital.  Abigail becomes sick herself and has to stay down.  He mother comes to look after her and the children.  They all find it hard to stand the house anymore because they have to cleanse the house constantly with hot vinegar.  While the whole house suffers, John thoughtlessly speaks about having another sinful feast in still another Philadelphia home.  Abigail's next letter tells her "dearest friend" that her mother died of the disease.  John reads the letter to Sam Adams and he says "poor Abigail" and asks John to send her his condolences.  John says he won't have to write it down because he's going home.  But Sam tells him that they need his voice in the continental congress.  He says together they have lead the congress farther than many of the delegates ever dreamed they would go.  

Mr. Galloway's humble petition (consoling the King) is defeated by one vote.  John can go home now.  John is back at home when the news arrives that the militia in Concord fired on the British troops.  He tells Abigail that now the congress will send aid to Massachusetts. 

Back in congress the feeling is that Gen. Ward must be replaced.  He has lost one too many battles.  John Hancock, now president of the new congress, asks John to nominate him to be the general to replace General Ward.  John gets up in congress to say that he is happy to nominate the only man qualified to fight the British:  George Washington of Virginia.  Back home Abigail works on the farm.  She writes her husband that the British bombed and burned down most of Charlestown. 

Those opposed to independence put forth another petition to the King.  John is disgusted at the moderation of many of the delegates.  Dickinson and other, however, are very angry with John Adams.  The British intercepted a letter from John Adams to his wife and published it.  John made a lot of really negative comments on the delegates.  Franklin comes to John's defense saying that it is the Congress that owes John an apology.  Gentlemen do not read the letters of other gentlemen written to their wives. 

At home Abigail tells John that he looks very tired.  He makes a little insensitive joke and Abigail lets all her frustrations out on him.  She says she is absolutely frazzled by all the work she has to do around the farm.  And added to that, she says:  "I'm so lonely here, I could cry."  She says of their 13 years of marriage they have spent less than half the time together. 

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson get together to talk.  John wants Jefferson to write a declaration of independence.  Jefferson tells John that he should be the one to write it.  He is the most outspoken and a very good writer.  John explains to Jefferson:  "I have never held my tongue in public."  As a result, everyone thinks he is obnoxious.  If he were to write the declaration, it would be under intense scrutiny and terrible criticism.  He sums up by saying:  "Begin your work at once."

The Declaration of Independence is written and read in public.  Church bells ring.  In a letter to Abigail John refers to the day as a "day of deliverance" that should be celebrated every year forever. 

 

Chapter 3.  John Adams, Diplomat. 

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams want a room for the night at an inn, but the has no vacancies.  John tells the inn-keeper who they are so she gives them a garret room, but one they must share.  In the room John comments on the fact that the American army is in a state of wretchedness.  Upon going to bed John wants the window closed and Franklin wants it open.  John gives in to Franklin. 

The two gentlemen meet with Lord Howe on possible peace, but the only offer Howe has is to grant the rebel leaders pardons if they accept peace now.  Adams tells Howe that the British underestimated the American nation.  They never thought the states would unite to fight them.  Howe comments that the colonies chose to unite for their own destruction.  And since the Americans won't be reasonable, he will just have to take New York and then advance on Philadelphia. 

John writes to Abigail that he visited a potter's field where some 2,000 American soldiers are buried.  The ratio is 10 to 1 of those who died from disease compared to those killed in combat.  But at least the Americans have proved that they will and do fight.  Benjamin Franklin is off to France to negotiate for their help.  He is now separated from all those he loves and united with those he hates, so he has asked for leave from Congress.  "I am coming home."  Abigail and the children are ecstatic that father is coming home. 

James Lovell, the new representative for Massachusetts, has come to the Adams house to give some important news to John Adams.  He carries a message from congress.  Silas Dean has been recalled from France for embezzlement.  John will be Dean's replacement.  At hearing the news Abigail becomes angry.  She says that Mr. Adams will refuse and that she has sacrificed three years already to the cause.  "We can't afford it," she says.  Lovell tells Abigail that the congress has called upon her so that she might make sure that John accepts the position.  At this moment John Adams arrives home.  He tells Mr. Lovell that he has already refused the job.  "I have not the stuff of a diplomat," he says. 

When John and Abigail are alone she tells John that he will stay a month at home.  Yes, John will go to France and take John Quincy with him.  John tells his wife:  "It has been the great blessing of my life that you do understand."

John and John Quincy arrive to speak with Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin is happy to see them and tells John that they will stay with him.  They will soon meet with the important Comte de Vergennes.  Madame Brillon comes to visit Franklin and scolds him for not paying her enough attention.  She says in the presence of the Adams that Franklin seduces half the women of Paris.  Madame Brillon then invites Franklin and Adams to her soiree. 

Arthur Lee, a U.S. envoy to France, tells Adams that Franklin has been egotistically pushing his own name before the French people.  The image of the very vain man is on tea cups and many other objects in France.  The whole nation has turned him into some sort of demigod.  He tells John:  "Be careful, Mr. Adams."  The court is full of intrigue

John wants to make an accounting of all the expenses of the diplomatic office, but Franklin does not want this.  He explains to John that he has kept no records on expenditures.  Franklin warns John:  "Don't trust Mr. Lee." 

John meets the French king, but he doesn't understand a word of what the King says to him.  He has studied French a little, but he just doesn't know the language.  When there is a pause he backs up while bowing the traditional three times to the king.  Later John tells John Quincy that they are finished with France and will be going home. 

John and Franklin meet with the Comte de Vergennes.  John is very upset that the British call for the Americans to accept peace with Great Britain without American independence.  He is too harsh in his remarks to the Comte, who tells John:  "Mr. Adams, you are the strangest diplomat I've yet encountered.  Have you returned to Paris to make peace with the English or declare war on France?"  After the session ends, Franklin indicates his displeasure with John's performance.  John fights back characterizing Franklin's stance as "they pay and we obey" like some beggars.  But Franklin makes the very good point that what else are the Americans but beggars.  They have no money and are terribly vulnerable as a country.  Franklin goes on to say that at times John is out of his "senses". 

In another confrontation with Adams, Franklin congratulates him on his diplomacy:  "You have raised the art of rudeness to new heights."  He goes on to tell John that he acts like a boy, instead of a man.  And Comte de Vergennes has asked Franklin to write to congress asking for the recall of Adams.  Franklin says:  "You threaten all the good works" that he has struggled to obtain.  John becomes angry and shouts that he is going to Holland to get a loan from that nation.  Franklin shouts back to him:  "You have no authority to act in Holland!"  John dismisses Franklin's concern and so the man from Philadelphia screams to him:  "Mr. Adams, you may go to Holland or to hell, whichever is closer." 

John rides in a coach with sons John Quincy and Charles headed for Holland.  John Quincy mentions Franklin and his father tells him never to bring up that man's name to him again.  He will be polite to the man when necessary, but that's it. 

Lovell comes to visit Abigail.  He tells her that Comte de Vergennes wants her husband recalled from France.  Abigail says that Franklin will surely stand up for her husband.  Lovell has to tell her that Franklin joined with the Comte in the recall.  Abigail makes a comment about human "perfidy".   Lovell starts to cheer her up saying that surely she has a great many social contacts to keep her occupied.  Abigail says she only has Nabby for company.  Then Lovell starts flirting with her.  He says that many in congress have mentioned her wit and intelligence, but he asks:  "Why has no man spoken of your beauty?"  He speaks her name with that of Helen of Troy.  Abigail takes exception to his remarks and sends him on his way without supper.  Lovell leaves.  Abigail starts to do her work but stops to look at her face in the mirror.  She looks intently, then dismisses Lovell's comments with the remark to herself:  "Down vanity!" 

John and the boys arrive in Holland.  Mr. Dana, who will be going to Russia as the American ambassador, tells John that he looks very tired.  He gives John a letter he has for him.  John reads it and then tells Dana that he is no longer the sole negotiator with Great Britain.  Now he is just one member of a five member peace commission along with Benjamin Franklin.  Adams admits to Dana:  "I'm a wretched diplomat."  But he is determined to get a Dutch loan before he goes back to Massachusetts. 

Adams realizes that he has caught a fever and asks Dana to get him a doctor. John is in a coma for five days.  When he is up and around he asks Dana to get him a teacher of the Dutch language.  He wants to learn something of the local language. 

John goes to speak to the head banker to ask him why he and the others refused his country's appeal for a loan.  The banker says that they only make a loan when there is a good chance that it will be repaid.  In the case of the United States there is little hope of having the money returned.  John uses the little bit of Dutch he has learned to insult the man and leaves. 

John returns to his sons and finds Charles crying.  John Quincy tells his father that Charles always cries when he gets a letter from mother.  John reads the part of the letter that applies to Charles.  Mother wrote that she hopes Charles's shiftless ways will be greatly improved by seeing the example of the industrious Dutch people.  Charles says that he hates being in Holland.  He wants to go home and will not be consoled.  His father tells him that he will send him back on the next available ship. 

John tells John Quincy that Mr. Dana is going to Russia and he should go with him.  He says it is a wonderful opportunity to serve his country.  John Quincy says that he will be in Russia both cold and lonely.  He goes on:  "And all this without consulting me?"  John is a bit taken aback by his son's utter frankness. 

Now that the war is ending, the Netherlands has recognized the United States and has granted the Americans a $5 million dollar loan.  The Princess of Orange meets with John.  She wanted to meet the man who got a loan of $5 million dollars from the very cautious Dutch bankers.  She is impressed.  John tells her that he has to return to France.  After the peace treaty is signed, he will be wanted back there. 

Back in France Adams attends a big party. The Comte de Vergennes asks Franklin what has happened to Mr. Adams?  "He's being charming tonight."  John speaks pleasantly with the Comtesse, translates for an American newcomer and even speaks in French. 

The narrator says that the thirteen colonies became a new nation with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, ending the American Revolutionary War. 


Chapter 4.  John Adams, Minister to Great Britain.

1784.  John rents a house in a village not far from Paris in order to bring his wife and Nabby to live with him.  In England George III slowly becomes reconciled to the loss of the thirteen colonies. 

Jefferson has arrived.  John tells him that he has been very sick with all kinds of ailments ever since he came to France.  It has now been four and a half years since he's been home.  He tells Jefferson that he is sick to death of politics.  Things back in the USA are not so good.  The peace is ruining more businesses than the war.  John says the French king is inept and the Queen is immoral.  The one who really pulls the strings is Comte de Vergennes.  Franklin is immoral and doesn't want the US to have a good relationship with Great Britain.  John says it is most important for the US to establish normal relations with Great Britain.  Turning to family matters, John tells Jefferson that his family has arrived in London and he will travel there to meet them and bring them to France. 

In London John sees Nabby first and then Abigail comes in.  Nabby seems sad.  John says it's because he opposes the possible marriage of Nabby to Royal Tyler.  Yes, says Nabby.  She tells her father that she is a woman now and yet he still sees her as a child.  She says she wants her father to trust her judgment and respect her feelings.  Abigail tells Nabby that father only wants a delay of one year before the marriage takes place.  If it is truly love, it will survive a year's separation. 

John Quincy arrives.  He blurts out the news that father is to be the first minister to England.  Abigail and John are shocked.  John tells Abigail not to worry because he will refuse the office if it is offered.  John writes a letter to take his name off the list of those being considered for the ministerial post. 

Back in Paris Abigail speaks with Jefferson.  She says she went to the ballet and was shocked.  The costumes are way to flimsy and show too much.  Abigail asks her husband:  "When will we go to London?"  She says that Mad-dog Adams can't resist standing nose-to-nose with King George. 

John Quincy heads back to Boston.  Nabby tells him that she has had no word from Mr. Tyler for the last few months.  She asks her brother to write to her about what he finds out about Mr. Tyler.  John Quincy tells her he will.  John says goodbye to his son, who is headed for Harvard.  John Quincy gives his father a big hug goodbye.  Shortly afterwards it is John Adam's turn to say goodbye.  John, Abigail and Nabby say good-bye to their servants and leave for London. 

In London John speaks with Colonel William Smith in his office.  He has been sent to him by congress to be his personal secretary.  Smith says he served in the Revolutionary War under none other than Washington himself. 

John speaks with an American sea captain.  The captain complains about the damn English duties.  They are way too high making it very hard to run American merchant ships back and forth to Great Britain.  Later John is fitted for a new suit.  He is preparing for his meeting with King George III.  He wife tells him not to insult anyone while he is with the King.  John asks what the English papers say about him.  Abigail says some have called him a traitorous rogue while another called him a beggar and a scoundrel.  A gentleman comes to John to teach him court etiquette in preparation for his meeting the King. 

John meets the King.  He says he is honored to be the first American to meet with the English King.  The King is very impressed with Adams's words and tells him that he is glad that the choice fell on him.  The King says although he was the last to accept the separation, he promised to be the first to meet with the American minister. 

John talks with Lord Carmarthen about the fact that British soldiers on the American frontiers are hurting the American fur trade.  And he says that the high English duties are unfair and unjust to America.  Carmarthen tells John that the British merchants must be paid by their American debtors before any treaty can be signed.  He then tells John:  "You really must learn patience." 

William Smith and Nabby talk together about the relationships between men and women.  Smith says he has never had much luck with women.  Nabby says she is surprised because he is handsome.  Smith touches her face and she protests.  He says that she has wonderful skin.  Nabby thinks about what he just told her. 

John dictates to Smith a letter to Jefferson asking him to come to London.  He needs advice from Jefferson.  Smith has a suggestion.  He suggest than John have a formal dinner and deal with some important people in a more informal way.  John likes the idea and has Smith make a list of the important people that perhaps should be invited to dinner.  Abigail protests to her husband:  "You and your dinners will dance us to the poor house." 

Nabby breaks off her relationship with Royal Tyler.  John Quincy has written that the man now seems unstable.  For instance, he goes around reading Nabby's letters to him to anyone who will listen. 

At the dinner Nabby plays the harpsichord and William Smith sings.  John pumps the influential men in the room for their thoughts on Lord Carmarthen.  One man says that Carmarthen can be very stubborn.  John asks them if they agree that the duties on English goods should be lowered.  They had not thought much about it.  After the dinner John and Abigail both agree that it went well. 

William Smith comes in to tell John and Abigail that he would  like to enter into courtship with their daughter.  John says he will discuss the matter with Mrs. Adams.  Abigail informs her husband that she has known about the matter for at least a month. 

William Smith and Nabby Adams marry.  Abigail hopes they won't be separated like she and John had to be separated.  She grieves that she will never get those years of separation back. 

Jefferson and John talk with a man who fought alongside Daniel Shays in what became known as Shays's Rebellion.  The man tells the politicians that most of the soldiers could not pay their rent and their houses were foreclosed upon.  Captain Shays got the men all together and they started assaulting the judges which helped lessen the rates of foreclosures.  They attacked the arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts but were badly defeated.  John is shocked at what he calls "anarchy".  Jefferson says that American needs to keep alive the revolutionary spirit.  The man decides to leave when he sees how angry John is.  Before he goes he says that there's too much government in America.  After the man leaves John comments to Jefferson that after all these years they have had their first disagreement.   Jefferson says that it is a small thing and John agrees with him. 

John reads the news that back home the widow Boland has her house up for sale for 600 pounds.  He asks Abigail if she would like to live there.  They discuss the matter and John says he will write to see if they can buy the estate.  John says he will try one last meeting with Lord Carmarthen.  If there is no success, the Adams family will go back to Massachusetts.  The meeting does not go well because the recent news is that a British sea captain was attacked by American sailors in Boston.   John says he disagrees with the use of violence, but understands the frustration behind the incident.  Adams asks about the possibility of lowering the English duties, but Lord Carmarthen says that is politically impossible for him to do.  John then says then the USA will have to impose American duties on their goods.  Carmarthen is very skeptical about this because, as he says, the United States are little more than thirteen separate and squabbling states. 

Back with Abigail John says that they leave for home.  Abigail looks forward to going back.  John says that he has almost thirty years of public life.  He describes himself as short, plum and balding.  He adds:  "My moment in the course of events is done and finished."  Abigail comments:  "Nonsense!"  When John gets in bed, Abigail asks skeptically:  "Is it?"  She laughs and John joins in. 

 

Chapter 5. John Adams, Vice President.

1788. When John Adams came home from his service in France and Great Britain he was out of touch with American ways and American politics. There was a delicate balance in the USA between Great Britain and France. The French Revolution threatened that delicate balance.

Abigail complains that the Boland house is too small and in great need of many repairs. John says about his new life: "I shall serve only the cause of peace and quiet." But his boys have other ideas. John Quincy says that Washington will be president, so the fight will be for the vice-presidential spot. Those vying for the position include John Hancock, George Clinton and John Jay. And Alexander Hamilton is the power behind the scenes pulling the strings. Charlie says that if father could get Hamilton's support he could be vice-president.

Hamilton talks politics with Gen. Knox. He says that John Adams is stubborn and vain. He sends Knox to see Adams to feel him out to see how cooperative or uncooperative he might be.

John asks Abigail if he should consider the position of vice-president. She tells him that he has considered it from the very beginning. Then. Knox arrives to pay a visit of sorts. He tells John that he has a great following in the electorate. John asks him to be blunt, so Knox tells him that he deserves to be the president, but if the vice-presidential post should be available would he consider it? John says that if the position of vice-president is offered to him, he would accept it.

John Adams wins the vice-presidential spot. Abigail says to her husband: "You are the vice-president Mr. Adams and thank God for it." She says that she liked New York City with so many people and continuous activity.

John goes to his office in New York City. He finds it in terrible condition. Alexander Hamilton pays him a visit there. He introduces himself to Adams. Charles Adams is introduced to Hamilton as his fatherís personal secretary. A man comes in to tell Mr. Adams that the Senate awaits him.

In the Senate John says that he wants to discuss the terms of address, the designation of titles, to be used as regards the president. This ignites a fire of indignation against Adams. Many senators say they want no European distinctions in America. Adams turns to the question of whether the Senate should sit or stand for the president? The decision is to sit. After the session is over some of the senators comment that Adams talked for some two hours. They laugh at his style.

Gen. Washington arrives in the Senate to a big applause. Mr.. Adams tells him: "This is a great day for the nation." Washington is sworn into the office of the presidency.

Alexander Hamilton supported Great Britain in most things, while Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson favored France. James Madison goes to see Thomas Jefferson at his home. The latest news from Paris is that King Louis and Marie Antoinette have been arrested. Madison says that Hamilton will use the news to discredit Jefferson. Jefferson agrees. About Adams Jefferson says that the man is too much under Hamiltonís influence. He should be unseated.

Both Washington and Adams are elected for a second term. Under Washington political parties had formed. The Republicans are led by Thomas Jefferson and the Federalists by Alexander Hamilton. The latest news of France is that a union of European countries want to stamp out the revolution.

French ambassador Jeanet has come to the United States. The problem now is whether Jeanet should be recognized or not. Jefferson speaks with Adams about the problem. He says that they must receive Jeanet, but Adams has serious reservations. The two go at each other for awhile.

Mrs. Bingham comes to speak with Abigail. She is dressed all in black. She explains that she is in mourning for the murder of King Louis XVI.  John comes in and listens to her. He says: "I have little patience for these theatrical posturings." Mrs. Bingham is a little upset with her reception. She says that Abigail has a flippant attitude about whatís happening in France.

In Philadelphia Abigail tells her husband that she is sick of Alexander Hamilton. And she wonders what happened to Jefferson. She says: "Mr. Jefferson was so beguiling in Paris." An announcement is made that Mr. Jefferson is here.

Jefferson has come to get Adamsís support for the French government. John is primarily concerned about peace between the USA and Great Britain and France. He tells Jefferson that the US cannot afford a war at this time. John reveals his thinking when he says that he likes Hamiltonís positions on these matters. This makes Jefferson angry and he says that he is not wanted here. John objects to this. He wants them to remain on good terms. Jefferson will have none of it. He says he will resign from the government. John says that politics has severed the bonds between the two men.

February 1793. France wars against Great Britain. The British say they have the right to seize any neutral ship heading to the French West Indies. James Monroe is so upset that he calls for war with England. In some places the British flag is torn down and ripped up. Effigies of King George are burned in the cities. Many people are angry at John Adams for his perceived support of Great Britain. A mob surrounds him screaming: "We want war." John only says that President Washington will decide whether there will be war.

John Quincy comes to visit his father. He tells his father that New York City is mad for war. Now there is a non-intercourse bill saying there will be no trade until Britain recognizes American neutrality for good. But the plain fact is that the US is unprepared and ill-equipped for war. John sighs regretting that the vice-presidential position is such a powerless job.

John Quincy changes the topic. He says that he keeps plodding along, but nothing of importance ever seems to come his way. John Quincy says he fears he lacks the confidence and the patience to get ahead. Of course, his father tries to erase his self-doubts.

The bill comes up for a vote. The Senate is divided 13 for and 13 against the bill. Adams, as president of the Senate, votes.  And he votes against the bill. There is an uproar among the Republicans and great hoops and hollers from the Federalists.

Adams tells the senators that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall will head to England and get for the USA a just and honorable treaty. Washington speaks with John about John Quincy. He asks John if he thought it a good idea to have John Quincy represent the country at the Hague. Obviously, yes. Washington tells Adams to send his son to see him.

The election for 1796 is upon the nation. Mr. Samuel Otis tells Adams that the national concern is that if either a clear Republican or a clear Federalist is elected, the nation could be split permanently. What they need is a leader who is above mere party politics. Mr. Otis says: "You are the obvious choice." He asks John if he will not give them some assurance of his interest in becoming president. John says he will let everyone know after Washington has decided whether to run again or not.

John Adams is elected the second President of the United States. Abigail tells John that he can no longer consider Alexander Hamilton a friend.

John Adams is sworn into the office of the presidency.

Chapter 6. John Adams, President.

John Adams is sworn in as president. It is March 1797.   Thomas Jefferson wants to compromise with John Adams, but Alexander Hamilton says that if Thomas Jefferson were elected, it would have been sufficient reason for dissolving the union.  Washington tells Adams: "Well, sir. I am fairly out and you are fairly in. See which of us is the happiest."

Nabby speaks to her mother about her financial situation. She says that business matters have not improved for her husband Mr. Smith. Abigail tries to reassure Nabby.

John is bothered by newly arisen troubles with France. He says to his wife that on his cabinet only Charles Lee seems to be on his side. Pickering is against the French and proclaims that there must be war. Johnís position is that the nation will continue to parlay with the French and prepare for war with a strong navy and army.

Adams calls in Vice-President Jefferson. He tells him that he needs his advice. Jefferson says that he is sorry that at their last meeting he grew heated. He assures Adams that he shall attempt to work with him the best that he can. In the discussion Jefferson insists that Hamilton is their greatest obstacle. The man supports the aristocracy, he says. Hamilton has no liking for the people. Adams says that at times he also does not like the people. And all the people in the French government are no more than Napoleonís puppets. Jefferson thrusts a knife into Adams: "As your cabinet are Hamiltonís." He advises Adams to fire the old cabinet and put together a new cabinet free of the influence of Hamilton.

The Secretary of War in Adamsís cabinet gives the written record of what happened at the cabinet meeting directly to Hamilton. With this kind of arrangement Hamilton can plan ahead to stymie Adamsís plans.

Abigail arrives in Philadelphia. She says that she had a day with Charles and his wife. They have a nice little house now. John tells her that his advisers are strangers and his friends have all faded away. Abigail says they just received an invitation to a ball to celebrate the birthday of George Washington. Adams says he wonít go. He says that now that Washington is a private citizen it would be inappropriate for the president to go to a party in his honor. John tells Abigail that he has not had a word from his men in France. He doesnít even know if he should be preparing for a treaty or for a war.

The three envoys to France are Eldridge Gerry, John Marshall and Gen. Pinckney. They are terribly frustrated at how they have been received. They complain that it seems that they have to hand out bribes to many key people just to have their proposals heard and possibly accepted. Mr. Hauteval comes to talk with them. He speaks about the "conditions" for a treaty. The envoys wonder how much will these "conditions" cost. The cost will be a quarter of a million dollars. Marshall tells Hauteval: "This is blackmail!" Mr. Hauteval is offended and says that when the French defeat the English, France will be the strongest nation in the world. Then the envoys will really have to pay for a treaty. He leaves.

France says they can seize any vessel carrying English goods. Adams is angry and tells his cabinet that he wants to end all trade with France. And all American ships will sail fully armed to resist being seized. The cabinet asks where is Thomas Jefferson? Adams says that Mr. Jefferson is "against us". The cabinet members complain that these days the French case is being defended publicly. And part of the case for France contains a great deal of seditious speech against the government of the United States. And what about those 20,000 Frenchmen in Philadelphia? They are all spies, says one cabinet minister.

John and Abigail read the newspapers. He is being tarred and feathered in the press. John wishes he could release the French envoy dispatches to the public. Then the public would see what outrageous demands the French are placing on the United States. He says that he wishes he could just refer to Talleyrandís agents as XYZ. Then Congress would demand to see all the envoy dispatches. And John wants the Republicans to be the ones to demand to see the dispatches. John floats the XYZ idea out there.

The XYZ Affair causes the public to change its mind again. They all seem now to want war with France.

One of the cabinet ministers, Pickering, talks with Hamilton. He knows that Hamilton wants a strong army. The man has even designed the uniforms for the new army. Pickering says that Adams will appoint Gen. Washington to command the army. Hamilton figures he has a good shot to be second in command. Pickering brags to Hamilton to rely on him. He can make Hamilton Washingtonís general.

John tells Abigail that he likes the adoration of the crowd. Abigail tells him: "Down vanity!" He complains about the new Sedition Act. He signed it to protect the nation but now he second guesses himself on it. Is he becoming a despot? he asks himself. 

John gets a letter from John Quincy. He tells his father that the mood of France has changed. Now they absolutely want America as an ally. John Quincy also writes that he is anxious about Charles. John tells Abigail that the last time he saw Charles he was drinking heavily and was besieged by creditors. He talks to Thomas to tell him to go see Charlie.

John is a bit unsettled, saying he is mired in intrigue over the XYZ Affair. He says that Thomas Jefferson was right. He should have gotten rid of Washingtonís cabinet. They are "nothing but Hamiltonís toy soldiers."

Three cabinet ministers come into Johnís office to protest the appointment of Vans Murray as Minister to France. They are outraged that the president went over their heads to Congress. One says: "Unforgivable, sir!" John defends himself by saying: "I see a chance for peace and Iím going to take it." The cabinet is very upset and try to give the president an ultimatum. Adams counters by saying he has an ultimatum of his own. The Senate either accepts Vans Murray or he will resign as president. That would mean that Thomas Jefferson would take over as president.  The cabinet officers back down. 

Secretary of the Navy Mr. Benjamin Stoddert, travels up to Massachusetts to speak with the president. Itís a very hot August day. The government is currently in Trenton, New Jersey up the Delaware River from Philadelphia to escape the yellow fever epidemic in Philly. Stoddert tells Adams that he is desperately needed in Trenton. Hamilton and his men do everything they can to delay the presidentís French ministers in their mission. He pleads that Adams come back to his duties. John becomes angry and says that his wife is desperately ill and his place is with her. And, he says, "I need some peace myself." Heíll come to Trenton, but only in October.

Adams prepares to go back to Trenton. Then he tells Abigail that he wants to delay going back for a couple of days. Abigail insists that he go. He gives in: "Oh, very well. I am off to Trenton."

In his office John gets a visit from Hamilton, who tells the president that he will be brief. He says: "Iím your friend, Mr. Adams." And as a friend he wants to give him some advice. He must postpone indefinitely the French mission. And the USA desperately needs an army. And they wonít get one by having peace with France. Adams will not budge. He tells Hamilton that "This conversation is over." Hamilton becomes angry and strikes back telling Adams that he will lose the election with his attitude.

December 14, 1799. George Washington has died. The new federal city will be named for him.

Jefferson says that the Federalists can never rise to the elections now. Hamilton is aghast at Adamsís decision to sent Vans Murray to France. He says that the Federalists will be split irretrievably asunder and that means "that man" is left to govern with no one to control him. More bad news for Hamilton. Adams has chosen Gen. C.C. Pinckney to be commander of the army. The Secretary of War asks Adams: "But what of General Hamilton?"

Adams calls in Secretary of War McHenry. He frankly tells the man that he is incompetent. All the business of his cabinet is always delayed. The President asks him to give him all the non-private letters he receives from abroad. And the uniforms of the army are being made of the worst cloth. McHenry gets angry and says Adams will have his resignation in the morning. John says: "Good!"

John and Abigail move into the White House long before it is done. The place is a real mess.

John Adams is defeated in South Carolina. The Republicans took every electoral vote. He tells his wife that he feels almost relieved. Jefferson will be the president. Abigail, at least, will be happier in Quincy. John says on March 5 he will begin a new life.

At this moment Thomas comes in. He has bad news about Charles: "Heís dead, mother." Abigail and John are stunned. John says: "He was the darling of my life." Abigail says it seems so strange. She has to laid three of her babies to rest. She tells John that she just wants to mourn in peace.

Thomas Jefferson is told that on the 33rd ballot the election results are: 73 for Jefferson, 73 for Aaron Burr and 65 for John Adams.

Jefferson comes to speak with Adams. He says he has come to pay his respect for their friendship. John cynically says they have not been friends for years. He also says about Jeffersonís remarks about the election: "Spare me your condolences. I shall live out my remaining days in anonymity." And Adams will not come to the Jefferson inauguration. He says: "I refuse to be a specter at my own funeral."

Thomas Jefferson is sworn in as the third president of the United States.

The narrator says that John Adams felt Jeffersonís presidency would be quoted by philosophers as a model of profound wisdom, while the politicians would see it as weak, superficial and short-sided. He thinks his own administration will be labeled as having no character at all. But John Adams maintained the peace and won from European countries a growing respect. To achieve this he sacrificed his political career as well as his private life.

 

Chapter 7.  John Quincy Adams, Diplomat.   

1809.  It's England versus France for mastery of Europe.  Both nations pre-empt the high seas.  American vessels are seized and searched.  John Quincy Adams experiences this indignity first hand.

The report aboard ship is that it's another British man-of-war ship.  John Quincy tries to calm his family and asks his servant to see to it that the ladies are not disturbed.  John Quincy goes to the captain's office.  There he sees Captain Beckford with British Lt. Mountgarret.    The Lieutenant says to John Quincy that the Captain tells him that there is an eminent American aboard ship.  That would be diplomat John Quincy Adams.  Adams is minister plenipotentiary to the court of Russia. 

The Captain says that the Lieutenant has ordered him to turn the ship about and has threatened to seize the ship if he does not.  And he will also impress one of the American sailors.  John Quincy asks:  "Under what authority? . . .  Unless some tragedy has befallen us since we put to sea, my country ceased living under His Majesty's rule thirty-three years ago."  The Lieutenant says that England is at war with France.  France has an alliance with Russia.  "Any ship bound for Russia is presumed to be friendly to Bonaparte and therefore England's enemy."   

Adams tells him that most of nations that engage in international trade have signed the Act of 1708.   And certainly Great Britain has signed it.  The Act insures respect for diplomatic immunity.  Interfering with a ship which has diplomatic immunity is called piracy.  He says to the Lieutenant that his Captain may not be pleased at his violating a international agreement and that he better ask about it. The Lieutenant acts tough but he is worried about the possible repercussions. He leaves saying he will return. (But he never returns and the American ship continued on its way.)

Petersburg, Russia. Tsar Alexandre I and his minister Chancellor Rumyantsey grapple with the problems of being allied with Napoleon. There is an appeal from a Mr. Adams about having American ships detained in Russian ports. The Tsar says he admires Mr. Adamsís persistence.

John Quincy and Louisa, his wife, wonder whatís happening at home with their sons George and John. They are going to a ball. Louisa tells John Quincy to go without her. He really has to go and he wants her to go with him, so he promises to spend the evening with her and dance with her. So she goes.

At the ball John Quincy is grabbed away from Louisa to talk about diplomatic matters.  A US ship has been recently impounded and twenty-two ships are unable to unload their cargos. The Russian minister comes over to talk with John about the situation. Gen Caulaincourt comes over to Louisa and gives her a tour of the mansion. He flirts with her, but she says her eyes are only for watching her husband, who to her disgust is still busy talking diplomacy.

On another occasion the French ambassador tells John Quincy that Napoleon is dismayed that Russia has broken their alliance with them. He says that John Quincy must be happy because now his ships will be free, but, says John Quincy, French privateers will stop the American ships claiming that the ships are really British ships disguised as American ships. The French ambassador says that the French sailors cannot tell British ships from American ships or British sailors from American sailors. But John Quincy was prepared for this argument. He tells the ambassador that he took the liberty of preparing a registry of all the American ships, all of which will carry a secret mark. And he also has prepared of glossary of naval terms used by the British sailors and a glossary of naval terms used by the Americans, so the French sailors can tell the nationalities of the sailors to whom they are speaking.

Louisa canít sleep, so she gets up. Her husband is busy working.  She tells John that she just knows the baby will be a girl. John Quincy says he has received a letter from Pres. Madison that Abigail Adams got him to write for John Quincy. Louisa says that 6,000 rubels per year is too small an amount to make it possible to entertain diplomats. She asks how long must this situation go on? And when will they ever see Massachusetts again? John Quincy tells her that first he must get a commercial treaty with Russia.. She complains to him about the absence from her two sons. (She has one son, the young Charles Francis, with her.)

In the United States some voices speak of peace, while others call for war with France or England. Mr. Monroe is now secretary of eighteen not very United States. John Quincy wants to get Russia to be allies with America. But he has recently been offered a position on the Supreme Court. His wife is ecstatic about living in Washington, D.C. She canít wait to get back to her own country. Her hopes, however, are dashed when John Quincy tells her that he wonít accept the appointment. He says that Louisa is now seven months pregnant and they cannot take a chance of having to have the baby born aboard ship. Louisa says that her husband can go ahead of her and after the baby is born come back for her and the children. She tells John Quincy to write to President Madison. He will certainly hold the position open for him. So John has to fall back on his real reason: "I have not finished here." Louisa cries.

Louisa Catherine is born and baptized.

The Russians are furious over what they regard as the treachery of the French. Napoleon has invaded Poland and the Russians have been driven back. Russia now needs Englandís help.  Nevertheless, the Tsar still has an obstinate attachment to the USA.

Louisa Catherine has a fever. John Quincy looks worried. In America war has been declared against England (the War of 1812). The nation has already been at war for two months. John Quincy says they must fight for their freedom once again.

The baby girl dies. John Quincy and Louisa bury their daughter. Back at home in bed Louisa cries and cries. She asks John: "Why must I weep for both of us?" He replies: "In my way I weep."

The Russians are worried about the advance of Napoleon. He is at the very doorstep of Moscow. John Quincy regrets that the US is knee deep in a war that need not have occurred. The English had already revoked the order to seize American ships.

The Tsar wants to be the mediator for peace between the United States and England. Albert Gallatin and Senator Bayard come to Russia, so, together with John Quincy, they can negotiate a peace with the English delegation

News arrives that England has refused Russia as a mediator. They suggest meeting in Sweden or London. They settle on Ghent. John Quincy is ready to leave for Ghent. He tells Charles Francis to be good while he is gone. He leaves. The American delegation has been joined by Henry Clay of Kentucky and a man named Russell. John Quincy says they need to present a united front to the English delegation. This may not be so easy because Clay seems to be a real hot-head. For instance, he says that the US should ask England to cede all of Canada to the United States.

The British delegation consists of the leader Lord Gambier along with Henry Goulburn and Dr. William Adams. They want the USA to grant the creation of an independent Indian state made up of the tribes allied to the British. John Quincy asks for and gets an adjournment for twenty-four hours.

The Americans talk about the severity of the British demands. Clay is outraged that the British should ask for an independent Indian state in the midst of American territory.

The British want to delay the negotiations since they are doing well in the war. So at the next meeting they ask for an adjournment.

Clay becomes so angry over the negotiations that he says he will return home. He walks out of a meeting of the American delegation. John Quincy tells the others not to worry. Clay will return.

When the delegations get together again the news is that, as they speak, the British army is advancing on the capital. British troops loot the White House and then burn it. John Quincy says that only heaven can help the Americans now.

Lord Gambier becomes upset over the American demand that the British give up all access to the Mississippi River. He says: "The colonials are trying to push us off the continent."

Louisa receives a letter from John Quincy from Ghent. He tells his wife that after the end of the negotiations he wants her to leave Petersburg for Paris where he will greet them.

Clay returns to his quarters drunk once again. John Quincy scolds him but Clay says: "A few hours sleep and Iíll be as sharp as a Yankee."

The Americans finally have some good news. Fort McHenry is held. The British have retired from Baltimore. And the invasion of New York was turned back at Plattsburgh. In addition, the attack on Lake Erie was thoroughly repulsed.

Now the British are asking the hero of the battle against Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington, to head up military operations in the USA. But Wellington refuses to take the position. He says there can be no successful conclusion to the war against America. His advice is to settle the war on the basis of the status quo before the war began.  Lord Gambier is totally deflated. 

Christmas Eve 1814. The Treaty of Ghent is signed ending the War of 1812. It recognizes the USA as a sovereign nation.

Napoleon escaped from the isle of Elba and afterwards near the end of  a period of 100 days he is defeated at Waterloo.

The family of John Quincy is reunited. Louis hugs her husband tightly. She and Charles Francis had spent six weeks of traveling since leaving Petersburg. John Quincy tells his wife that their boys in Massachusetts are well. But they are not going to Massachusetts. Instead the boys are coming to the court of Saint James. John Quincy has been appointed the next minister to Great Britain. He tells Louisa that the boys will be put on the first ship to Europe. He says: "We shall all be together again." Louisa cries. John Quincy again says: "In my way, Louisa, I am weeping too."

 

Chapter 8.  John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State. 

1817, Quincy, Massachusetts.  There is a reunion of three generations of Adams:  John Adams, the second President of the United States; John Quincy Adams, the diplomat; and George, John and Charles Francis Adams.  The host and hostess are John and Abigail Adams.  They are celebrating the triumphant return of their eldest son.  George toasts along with the others to his father, but adds at the end that John Quincy will be a president of the United States.  This embarrasses John Quincy and he tells George to go to his room. 

The boys and John Quincy are down by their swimming area.  Dad explains to the boys that they are never to brag about him or themselves.    He says:  "We are all each other's shadows . . . " and what any family members does or says has an effect on other family members.  He says he's proud of his boys.  George will soon be going off to Harvard. 

John Quincy talks to his father, who tells him that he sees himself playing the role of a wise old man in his elderly years.  And in that role, he has noticed that the boys are somewhat subdued.  He says he misses the boys' spontaneity.  John Quincy says that father feels that he has been too heavy-handed on the boys.  John Adams says certainly he was too hard on George.  After all, George didn't say anything that every other man in the room was thinking.  He advises John Quincy that his every move will be watched, so he must study his every move.  John Quincy tells his father that he does not and will never seek the presidency. 

General Andrew Jackson pursued marauding Indians into Spanish Florida.  Spain has demanded the return of the land.  And on the expedition into Spanish Florida, Jackson executed two British citizens, Robert Ambrister and Alexander Arbuthnot.  In a cabinet meeting with President James Monroe, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina says they must clearly repudiate Andrew Jackson.  He must be repudiated and the land given back to the Spanish.  John Quincy's voice is the only one speaking in behalf of Jackson.

Virtually everyday John Quincy speaks with Don Luis de Onis, the minister of the King of Spain..  Today is no different.  The Spanish minister says that he must deal with John Quincy and John Quincy alone.  Apparently, John Quincy swayed President Monroe and his entire cabinet on the issue of Andrew Jackson.  John Quincy draws the minister's attention to a map.  He says that the Spanish minister said at their last discussion that the red line on the map was the boundary of Spanish territory in the United States.  John Quincy then draws a new line in blue that goes through northern Texas to the Rockies then up the Rockies a ways and then straight over to the Pacific coast.  He tells the minister that Spain will retain Texas and the lower part of the southwest.  The ambassador says that negotiations between Spain and the USA will cease until Florida is restored to Spain and lawful punishment given to Andrew Jackson.  Before the ambassador leaves, John Quincy asks him:  "Don Luis are you counting on England?"  The ambassador does not answer.

John Quincy comes home.  Mrs. Adams's niece, Mary Catherine Hellen, is staying with them.  Mary Catherine kisses Charles Francis.  When someone sees her, she slaps the face of her cousin and scolds him for kissing her. 

John Quincy runs some ideas past his wife.  He says he is writing that it is the obligation of Spain to restrain the marauding Indians in Spanish Florida.  If they are unable or simply cannot restrain the Indians, then they must immediately cede Spanish Florida to the United States.  Louis is a bit concerned at the boldness of her husband's demand. 

President Monroe tells John Quincy that his defense of Andrew Jackson in his writings has completely silenced the critics.  British Lord Castlereagh now says that Britain will not demand anything from the Americans over the Spanish Florida incident.  Therefore, John Quincy can put a great deal of pressure on Spain.  The President notices that John Quincy does not seem to be savoring the news of his victory.  John Quincy says he has just received news that his mother Abigail has died.  The President gives his condolences.  Before leaving John Quincy, the President says:  "That blue line of yours.  Suddenly it looks quite real."   Later when dealing with the Spanish minister, Don Luis tells John Quincy:  "You have fulfilled your destiny or, at least, part of it." 

At home George Adams comes in to tell his mother that he will take her out to dinner and a play.  But she cannot go.  They have other plans.  So George changes his plan.  He says he will take Mary Catherine out and Mrs. Hawkins can be their chaperone.  Mary Catherine signals to Louisa that she desperately wants to go.  When George sees his cousin he cannot believe she has changed into such a beauty. 

Henry Clay has been attacking John Quincy Adams and his politics, says Mr. Bent. 

Young John Adams comes home from Harvard.  He has to tell his father that he is 40th in his class of 85.  John Quincy says he will arrange for a private tutor to help his son.  He then sends him to his room to study.  Mary Catherine comes in to speak with John.  He tells her that he is a bit down because his father is making him study.  When he lifts his hand and finally sees Mary Catherine, his mouth drops open and he says:  "Well, I'll be damned."  Mary Catherine says that's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to her. 

Louisa tells her husband that George and Mary Catherine are waiting for an answer from them about their getting married.  Mrs. Adams wants to remain neutral in the matter because both George and John are after Mary Catherine.  She says that John is in love with her.  John Quincy calls George in to come see him.  He asks him when would he get married?  George says within two or three years.  This makes his father very happy and he says:  "In that case we consent to the marriage."  John Quincy leaves.  Mary Catherine comes in to learn the news.  She seems very happy, but George seems somewhat under-whelmed.  He offers a toast to the upcoming marriage.

President Monroe says that Great Britain wants to make sure that Spain will not retake Mexico and the recently independent countries in South America.  They have, therefore, asked the United States to join them in a statement that says that if any European country tries to interfere with any country in the Western Hemisphere, they will have to answer to both Great Britain and the United States.  Monroe's entire cabinet is enthused about the joint statement.  But Monroe wants to hear what Adams thinks.  Adams takes the position that the statement itself is good, but joining with Great Britain is not.  The United States would only be seen as tagging along with its stronger big brother.  No, the United States must go it alone without Great Britain.  Monroe is impressed with John Quincy's logic and stance. 

John Quincy Adams had a triumphant diplomatic career capped by the Monroe Doctrine, the acquisition of Spanish Florida and getting rid of Spain's claims to the Oregon territory and thereby extending the US border to the Pacific Ocean.  Louisa shines as a hostess and her social invitations are much sought after.  The 1824 Grand Ball was the highlight of the social season. 

Andrew Jackson arrives to a party given to honor his great victory at the Battle of New Orleans.  Jackson, John Quincy, Henry Clay and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford speak together at the party.  The presidential election is coming up in eleven months and one of the four men will be elected President of the United States.  George could not come to the party, but John arrives.  He dances with Mary Catherine.  Charles Francis arrives to give Mary Catherine flowers from George.  When he goes to find Mary Catherine he discovers her and John kissing. He turns around and leaves. 

The election results were 37 for Clay; 41 for Crawford; 84 for Adams; and 99 for Jackson.  Since there is no clear winner, the election will go to the House of Representatives.  Robert Letcher from Kentucky tells John Quincy that Clay's votes will be very important in deciding the outcome of the election.  And Clay is definitely not for Jackson.  But the people of Kentucky like Jackson.  In exchange for the position of secretary of state in John Quincy's cabinet, Clay would throw his support to Adams.  Robert says that Mr. Clay would like to speak with John Quincy in private.  John Quincy approves of the idea.

Louisa complains to her husband about the terrible things being said about John Quincy in the newspapers.  Her husband tells her to ignore what the papers are saying.  But he is concerned that people are saying that he is now definitely running for the presidency, even though he said he never would. 

Mr. Clay comes to speak with John Quincy.  He says his own personal preference is for John Quincy, but he adds that Crawford's men have approached him for his support. 

Bargains and politics often go together.  No one knows what was said in the meeting between  John Quincy and Clay.  But after the talk, Clay supported the Adams's cause.    The House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams to be president for the next four years.  His presidency was shadowed by the military hero Andrew Jackson.  On February 9, 1825, John Quincy Adams became the sixth President of the United States by one state.  It was a clouded victory beset my doubts and unanswered questions.   

 

Chapter 9.  John Quincy Adams, President. 

February 1825.  John Quincy Adams became the sixth President of the United States by one state in the House of Representatives.  John C. Calhoun of South Carolina is the Vice-President.  Henry Clay will be appointed Secretary of State.  Calhoun is amazed that John Quincy is going to go ahead and appoint Clay.  He objects to Adams that "you've had meetings."  The claim is that Adams won only because he made a deal to give Henry Clay the Secretary of State position in return for his support.  John Quincy is bothered by the criticisms and accusations.  He is so disturbed that Clay comes to him to say that it would please everyone if they could see him smile.  He does not smile. 

Andrew Jackson has arrived and gets a lot of attention.  John Adams is still his father's private secretary.  He is also shocked that his father is going through with the appointment of Clay.  He tells his father that Clay is being unusually supportive.  John Quincy explains that Clay and Jackson are the two great westerners.  It's not that Clay has become more pro-Adams but that he has become more anti-Jackson. 

Louisa is not feeling well and retires from her own party.  She complains to her husband that Mary Catherine follows John around everywhere he goes.  She is also upset about the many Jackson supporters.  They came with Jackson even though they were not invited.  They are not Monroe's people and certainly not Adams's people.  Louisa says that Jackson's supporters are here to spy and gossip.  These ruffians are describing John Quincy as "Henry Clay's president".  John tells his father that Calhoun stayed with Andrew Jackson as if openly taking his side.  John Quincy explains that Calhoun wants Jackson to be the president in four years, so the Adams administration must be made to look bad.   John leaves.  Mary Catherine comes in looking for John.  Louisa expresses her upset with the young woman telling her "to try to think of George." 

John Quincy's thoughts turn to those of his father and his recently deceased mother Abigail.  He says she would have been proud.  He becomes very melancholy and tells his wife that he would like to end the day the way he began it:  alone.  Louisa leaves.  John Quincy prays that his administration will help the people of the United States.  

John Quincy's cabinet is upset about his planned address to Congress.  He is asking for a National Naval Academy, a National University, a National Observatory, a National Bankruptcy Law, a National Militia Law, A National System of Weights and Measures, a National Patent Law and a National System of Internal Improvements.  One fellow complains that all anyone will remember is the stress on the word National:  "It's excessively bold."  Henry Clay proves somewhat supportive of Adams which surprises the President a bit.  Clay stays behind after the meeting is over.  He says that Adams has been in office for almost a year.  He tells him that the message to Congress is "your" decision. 

John Quincy speaks to his son John about the "Hidden Issue".  The cabinet is largely with him, but they are concerned about the balance between North and South and the possibility that an unbalance may lead to the abolishment of slavery.  He says the issue is so hidden that:  "I only write of it in my diary." 

George comes home to Quincy.  He has come to see grandfather who is dying.  He tells Susan that his father should be with him, "not me".  He says:  "I can't be alone with him.  Not when he dies."  He says he feels unprepared.  But Susan keeps encouraging and pushing him to go see grandfather.  George finally goes upstairs to see his grandfather.  Grandfather asks who is it and the answer comes:  "I'm George."  Today is July 4, the 50th Fourth of July.  John Adams says:  "Independence forever!  It's a great day.  It's a good day.  . . . Jefferson still lives."  John Adams, second President of the United States, dies. 

In Washington, D.C. John tells Louisa and Mary Catherine:  "Mr. Jefferson is dead on the Fourth of July. . . . And my father's death is fast approaching."  He will leave for Quincy in the morning.  In Quincy John Quincy learns that his father is dead.  He tells George that he is very glad that George was with grandfather when he died.  "Thank you," he says. 

Charles speaks with his brother John about the fact that their brother George drinks and dreams while father settles his debts.  All dad has is this house and not even that really because he has to pay the other heirs $10,000 dollars and he doesn't have the money.  The three sons go in to sit with their father to make sure he is not alone too much. 

Mary Catherine sings to a group at the White House.  She receives a nice applause.  A reporter named Jarvis, who is a Jacksonian and a very rude pain in the ass,  speaks with John Adams.  We learn that John is now married to Mary Catherine. 

John Quincy tells Louisa that she always manages to leave her own receptions.  Louisa tells her husband to watch George's drinking.  And she complains about Mary Catherine saying she has no affection for their son John.  John Quincy says that at least Mary Catherine has a great deal of affection for Louisa.  Mary Catherine's choice of songs was based on a desire to please Louisa.  Louisa comments:  "My heart tells me there is much to fear."

Louisa has a lot of resentment toward John Quincy.  She tells him that he was in love with Mary Frazier and only married her (Louisa) when her family went bankrupt and he felt it would be the best thing to do.  She flatly tells him:  "There seems in you no tenderness."  She is writing a letter to the Daily Telegraph.  John Quincy is very concerned about the repercussions and urges her not to make the letter public.  But Louisa insists she will send it in.  She adds that she is going to write an autobiography and entitle it:  Dairy of a Nobody

While the Adams family talks with each other, Jarvis starts attracting everyone's attention by loudly criticizing his host.  John Adams hears some of the scurrilous remarks and becomes very angry.  He tells Jarvis off.  Jarvis is so offended that he wants to challenge John to a duel.  John goes in to speak with his father, who tells him to take the matter in stride.  John brings up the point that the press supporting his father has been terribly vicious toward Jackson and his wife.  Jackson is even called a bigamist.  John Quincy says he approved none of these charges.  John tells him that he should say that in public.  John Quincy does not seem willing to do that. 

One day while John descends the stairs he is accosted by reporter Jarvis.  Jarvis actually slaps John with his hand and a fight breaks out.  Other men separate the two fighters. 

Louisa is very upset about the assault on her son.  Some papers and Louisa call it the "assassin's" attack on her son.  She feels it was the work of Jackson and Calhoun.  John Quincy says it was a matter of "the unlawful interference with a confidential messenger."  Louisa says:  "I fear for the safety of our son."  John Quincy says that John is not going to fight a duel.  John comes in.  He says that it has been proposed that Jarvis will be brought before the bar for reprimand and discharge.  And a resolution had been presented to prohibit the practice of dueling.  John Quincy does not share his son's enthusiasm.  He says that Jackson will undoubtedly win the next election and become president.  Then the matter will be forgotten. John is amazed at his father's reaction and says almost in disbelief:  "It's a victory for you father."  Dad just responds:  "Which is why it will be forgotten." 

Charles Francis comes in to speak with George at his place a few minutes before the arrival of their father.  He warns George that dad is on his way here and to clean himself up.  Charles Francis also tries to pick-up some of the worst mess.  George tells him:  "If I should die, I want you to read this letter."  He hands the letter to John who wants to know what it says.  George will not say, except to mention:  "There is a child." 

Father arrives.  He is surprised to see Charles Francis there.  Charles Francis goes outside.  Father writes a check to cover creditor Henry Wood's $1,000 dollar note against George.  He tells George that they will move to Meridian Hill in Washington with the arrival of spring when they will make the move back to Quincy.  He wants George to help them with the journey home.  George agrees to help.  His father tells him that let April and spring be a goal for all of the family to shoot for.  George remarks:  "Poor father.  Still battling for internal improvements whether in the nation or the family."  This angers dad who says that the internal improvements matter was a failure, but he won't accept failure in his sons.  John Quincy starts to leave.  George starts drinking again.  Dad tells Charles Francis to take care of his brother.  George asks Charles Francis if father has gone.  Yes.  George asks:  "Then why do I still hear his voice?" 

Mary Catherine has had a baby and John Quincy comes in to visit his grandchild.  He thanks Mary Catherine for giving him a grandchild.  Bad news arrives.  John tells his father that George has disappeared off the deck of the steamship Benjamin Franklin.  His hat was found near the stern and his cloak was found not far away from the hat.  John Quincy is stunned.

Louisa is so upset that she takes to bed.  When her husband comes in to see her, she begs him to leave her.  She warns him to ignore what she will say to him if he does not leave.  "I will reproach you. . . I will blame you."  John Quincy quotes a Biblical passage about a man having to bear justified criticism. 

George's body washes up on the shore of City Island off the east coast of the Bronx, New York City.  His body is placed in a tomb in Eastchester, Westchester County, New York. 

At the Quincy home John Quincy says that the family will have the funeral service in late autumn when Louisa is stronger.  He asks his son John:  "But what should I do until late autumn?"  John urges him to start the garden he has talked about for some thirty years.  This puts John Quincy into a very pensive mood.   

 

Chapter 10.  John Quincy Adams, Congressman. 

Charles Francis tells his father that he should write a history of the family vindicating grandfather.  But instead he has run back to politics.  John Quincy objects that this involves his own district.  And his own district is his business as much as his family is his business.  His wife also gets after him, mentioning his "insatiable appetite for public office."  John Quincy says:  "I did not seek it.  I did nothing.  I was chosen."  He says that some 3/4s of the total vote petitioned him to run for office.  He also mentions that he will receive $8 dollars per day for each session of Congress he attends and receive $.40 cents per mile travel allowance.  After all Louisa's objections to his returning to politics, she suddenly announces to her husband that in truth going to Washington will revive her because it will help her get away from the terrible climate in Quincy. 

John Quincy talks to the French analyst of American politics and culture Alexis de Tocqueville.  The Frenchman asks him:  "Do you regard slavery as a great evil for the United States?"  John Quincy replies:  "Yes, unquestionably.  It's in slavery that are to be found almost all the embarrassments of the present and fears of the future."  But John Quincy wants to know why is Tocqueville asking him these questions?  After all, he has never spoken publicly on the subject.  He wants to know if this is connected to his being asked to present anti-slavery petitions to Congress even before he has gotten to Congress?  He goes on to say that he will present the petitions, but it does not mean he will support them. 

John Quincy presents fifteen petitions dealing with the abolition of the slavery trade and the institution itself in the District of Columbia.   But the ruling opinion in Congress supports the resolution that all talk about slavery or abolition shall be tabled and no further action whatever shall be taken on the issue.  Adams is very unpopular because of his presentation of petitions on the slavery question.  He tells his colleagues he has not taken up the cause of abolition.  In fact, one of the petitions is from slaves who do not want the abolition of slavery because they would be without a way to support themselves. 

Louisa is very upset.  Her son John has died and she blames her husband.  She says that John would not leave the mills.  He persevered in his duty until it killed him.  She says that there is $30,000 dollars owing on John's grave because that's what is owned on the mills, her son's graveyard.  She tells her son Charles Francis that their house in Washington, D.C. is mortgaged to pay for the mills.  Now she has lost two sons.  And her husband's health ebbs away each day.  But then, once again, Louisa suddenly reverses herself and says:  ". . . but I am forced to admit he is right."  (One wonders about her mental stability with these sudden, unexplained turn arounds.) 

Lewis Tappan of the anti-slavery movement comes to speak with John Quincy.  Off the coast of Cuba black African slaves mutinied against their slave owners on the ship Amistad (meaning "friendship" in Spanish).  John Quincy says he agrees that the Africans were not slaves.  They were sold in the slave market which was illegal.  The lawyers for the Spanish owners argue that the Negroes should be regarded as ship-wrecked property.  The case is set to go to the Supreme Court of the United States.  The Spanish want the slaves returned to Havana for punishment.  Right now the Africans are in the New Haven County jail.  John Quincy will take the case. 

The next morning John Quincy meets with Professor Gibbs and Mr. Roger Sherman Baldwin.  The student who came to get him talks about an abolitionist saying that he should kill Mr. Adams for not fully supporting the anti-slavery movement.  John Quincy tells the student that he gets threats on his life from abolitionists, but also from many southerners.  John learns from the two men that the Africans are from the Mendi tribe and that Professor Gibbs is learning the Mendi language and teaching the Africans the English language.

John Quincy meets the Africans in jail.  They are extremely grateful to him for taking their case and they say they love him very much.  Mr. Adams is touched by their gratitude. 

Charles Francis Adams has been elected to the state senate of Massachusetts.  John Quincy is not sure just how to organize his argument for the Africans.  Mary Catherine suggests he must extemporize which he and his father are and were both good at.  In court Adams tells Mr. Baldwin that he is so bewildered by the case.  When the judges come in the Chief Justice announces that one of their members  has died and that court is adjourned until Monday morning.  This gives more time for Adams to prepare his case.

The debate begins.  John Quincy says the entire case comes down to one fundamental principle: the administration of justice.  He says than an immense array of power has been brought to bear on the side of injustice.  This is especially the case with the Spanish ministers to the United States.  Court adjourns.  When it resumes Adams give a rambling speech that seems mostly designed to flatter the Supreme Court judges. 

John Quincy wins the case for the Africans.  Now the anti-slavery people want Adams to come out openly for the cause.  But John Quincy says:  "There's nothing more that I can do."  But he doesn't really believe this because back in Congress he goes on the attack.  He says there is an alliance between Southern slave traders and northern Democrats to stop him from introducing anti-slavery petitions into Congress.   Indeed, some of his colleagues asks the Speaker of the House to "put him down" (stop him from talking).  Adams says that he has petitions that will set the Congress ablaze.  And one of these petitions is from Massachusetts asking that the Union be dissolved.  His colleagues go apoplectic on the man from Massachusetts.  One congressman says that the member from Massachusetts has justly incurred the censure of this House.  He has offered great insult to the people of the United States by introducing the petition to dissolve the Union.  Indeed, Adams is guilty of conduct unworthy of his past and present positions in the US government.  Marshall from Kentucky accuses Adams of high treason.    Adams questions the man's ability to think for himself.  He says he is standing up for the right of the American people to alter, change or destroy the government if it becomes oppressive to them.  He wants to restore the right of petition in Congress.  And to pursue the matter he says he has not been given any time for his own defense.  He defies his colleagues to submit a motion of censure.  And to open his defense he wants the secretary to read the Declaration of Independence.  This is meet with a lot of hoots and hollers and jeering. 

On another occasion Adams says that letters have been pouring in to him supporting his position.  The public agrees that his case is a definitive one for constitutional rights. Adams's defense goes on and on until Marshall and another congressman offer to withdraw the censure motion in return for John Quincy dropping his petitions.  Adams says that he was under considerable intimidation from the charges such as treason and the call for censure.  But if he had given in, the people of the United States wouldn't be able to express their grievances.   John Quincy says it has been twelve days so far of his defense and he needs one more week.  A collective groan goes up.  But he is willing to drop the matter if his critics will lay the matter of censure on the table.  The Speaker of the House thanks the gentleman from Massachusetts for his "generous acquiescence".  John Quincy says he did not acquiesce.  As a matter of fact, he has some 200 petitions that he had been planning to present to the House which would have tied up Congress. 

John Quincy Adams is now 80 years of age.  He is all set to fight against the petition to thank the American generals for their contribution in the Mexican campaign.  A year ago he had a stroke and now the congressmen treat him very gingerly.  It is 1847 now.  The motion to thank the generals is discussed.  Mr. Adams gets up to object to all the claptrap, but collapses suddenly.  Someone shouts that Mr. Adams is dying. 

Henry Clay comes to visit John Quincy at the dying man's request.  But John Quincy is physically unable to speak to the man.  Clay leaves.  John Quincy's last words are:  "To the officers of the House.  This is the end. . . earth . . but I am composed."

 

Chapter 11. Charles Francis Adams, Minister to Great Britain.

March 1861. Charles Francis Adams is serving his second term in Congress. He reads in the newspaper that Lincoln is sending him to Great Britain as the American ambassador. This is the first he has heard of it. He goes home to tell his family the news.

His wife says about the nomination: "Itís a disaster." She does not want to go to Great Britain. She sends their children out of the room to speak alone with her husband. He tells her that itís rather flattering, Abby. She asks: "You wonít refuse it then?" No.

Adams goes with Secretary of State Seward to see President Lincoln. Seward introduces Adams to the President who listens and then says, if there is nothing further: "Good day then." Charles Francis canít believe thatís all there was to it. He stands there frozen for a few extra seconds before leaving. Seward says that certainly was short and to the point. Too short, as far as Adams is concerned. Seward says itís not important. The only thing that really matters is that Adams makes sure that Great Britain does not support the Confederacy.

Most of the Adams family is aboard ship headed to Great Britain. Henry Adams will be his fatherís private secretary. Dad tells his son that Prime Minister Palmerston is said to have been antagonistic toward the USA all through his public life. And Foreign Secretary John Russell is said to have a deep aversion toward slavery, but is cold and aloof.

The family is met at the dock by Benjamin Moran. He tells Adams that Queen Victoria has just issued a proclamation of neutrality granting belligerent rights to the Confederacy. There are two reasons for this. Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued letters of mark for privateering and Lincoln has declared a blockade of all southern ports in the USA. Adams makes it clear that any recognition of the Confederacy will be regarded as an unfriendly act aimed at destroying the American nation. He decides that he must see John Russell immediately.

When Adams gets dressed up in the official outfit to meet the British big-wigs, his children laugh at his appearance. Adams complains to Benjamin about having to wear a "monkey outfit", but Benjamin says that Queen Victoria was insulted when his two predecessors just wore regular business suits.  She felt that the Americans wouldn't even dress-up for her. 

John Russell meets with Adams. Adams tells him that upon his arrival in London he was dismayed by the proclamation of neutrality. He says he must register his countryís objection. Mr. Russell explains that it was done out of a strict concern for British neutrality. Britain has no intention of formally recognizing the Confederacy. Adams asks if this will be true in the future also. Russell says he canít give Adams that assurance. Adams says he is disappointed. And with that the meeting is over. The new ambassador tells other Americans that the British stance leaves a cloud over British neutrality. He is afraid that if the British recognize the Confederacy other nations such as France will follow the British example. And this just might mean the destruction of the United States.

Adams receives a letter from his son Charles. He says that he is now 26 years old and wants to join the Union forces. He says he hopes that father will make no objections to this. Dad asks of Henry what will Charles gain from leading men into battle? There is no future in it. But he tells Henry that he will neither encourage or discourage Charles from joining the military.

Adams plays billiards with a number of British gentlemen. They tell Adams that they are confounded about the goals of Lincoln. Is the war about reunion and not abolition? And why not allow the south to secede? Adams answers that the behavior of the south is another form of rebellion. The Brits wonder if the Union can be maintained by force. A large section of Britain, such as the British aristocracy, is very sympathetic to the Confederacy.  Adams insists to them that the Union will be preserved at any and all costs.

Adams learns that Bull Run was an absolute route for the northern forces. The British newspapers paint the story as one of a huge Union army being defeated by a small southern one. And now Henry Adams tells father that he wants to join the army. Dad does not like the idea.

Adams tells son Henry that the great British historian Archibald Allison is coming to see him. Allison comes in and immediately tells Adams that he has the solution to all the problems facing Lincoln. The United States must inaugurate a monarchy. Adams is shocked that the historian would say these things that directly contradict the American constitution. Then finally Adams learns that this is not Archibald Allison, but rather Alexander Allison. Alexander is a writer on matters of religion and politics, not history. After Alexander leaves Adams refers to the manís ideas as "laughable suggestions".

Adams tells his son that he is bothered by many of Britainís ways. He especially does not like men and women kissing in public. Henry tells his father that he has decided not to seek a military commission. He feels he has a duty to stay and help his father.  His father is relieved. 

Lord Russell calls in Adams to complain about the Mason-Slidell matter. A British ship was intercepted by the United States sloop of war the Trent and Confederate agents Mason and Slidell were removed by force. The two agents have subsequently been imprisoned at Fort Warren. Moreover, the American government gave Captain Wilkes a gold medal for his actions. The British public will react with a great furor over this provocation.

Poor Adams doesnít know much about what happened. He tells Russell that he only has the barest of facts about the event. Russell demands that the United States give Britain an official apology and restore the two Confederate agents to British custody.

Adams goes home to find his wife packing to go home to Boston. She explains her actions by saying that he told her he would go home if Lincoln and Steward didnít start telling him more about what is going on. Charles Francis agrees that Lincoln and Seward donít tell him much at all, but he says they will stay until he is officially recalled. Abby tells her husband that she dreams of home. She adds: "Iím not suited for exile." Her husband responds: "Nor I, Abby, nor I."

Lord Russell requests that Adams come to White Hall as soon as possible. Adams is told that the British government is satisfied that there was no official instruction to stop the British ship. So the Trent incident is considered closed. Russell and Adams agree that they both share a basic dedication to peace between the two nations. Russell then says there is talk that Adams desires to leave his position in Britain. Adams just tells him "no".

Adams receives a letter from Charles from Falmouth, Virginia. He talks about some of his war experiences, but he has not been in the thick of it as of yet.

Adams wants to find the home in which his family stayed when his father John Quincy Adams was minister to Great Britain. His daughter tells him that he is lost. Mrs. Adams tells her daughter: "Men are never lost, Mary." They may be a little disoriented, but never lost.

Dad finally finds the house and gets permission to go inside. His family goes with him. He says he lived here 45 years ago but much of it looks quite the same. The place has not been lived in for quite some time now. Adams speaks about how he loved to come home after school. He is saddened by the thought that virtually all the persons, except himself, who lived in the house are now deceased. But above all, he says: "I loved who I was here."

Adams goes to speak with Russell again. He registers his strong complaint that the British are constructing ironclad ships for the Confederacy. Russell assures Adams that the British will not let the ironclads leave port under Confederate control. He adds that the work on the two ironclads is practically finished anyway. Adams is not reassured. He reminds Russell that the British-built ironclad known as the Alabama was permitted to depart and that ironclad has destroyed many northern ships. Lord Russell says he did try to detain the Alabama and he deeply regrets his failure. 

Adams tells Russell that the United States would be forced to take action if the ships left Liverpool.  Lord Russell is alarmed by the statement and asks what kind of action.  The United States would have to use privateers to destroy British ships.  The departure of the ironclads from Liverpool would bring about the most serious consequences.  The United States needs assurance that the ironclads will be detained.  Lord Russell says:  "I will take what you say under advisement."  A shocked Adams replies:  "That is your answer?!"  Lord Russell says:  "My full answer will be forthcoming."  Adams will only say:  "Good day, Lord Russell."

Abby reads a letter from Charles to her family.  He writes that they daily wait for some movement that does not come.  Six months ago he commanded 110 men in the field.  Now he has only 40 effective combatants.  And the horses are now little more than crow's bait. 

Abby wants her husband to go out for a walk with her.  She becomes very upset when he tells her he has to wait for a response from Lord Russell.  Abby leaves the room.  Mr. Moran comes in with Lord Russell's reply.  The government has decided that they cannot interfere in any way with the ironclads.  That appears quite final, says Adams.  He has Henry quickly takes down his response to Lord Russell. Henry writes down the following:  Britain can no longer claim neutral status.  Rather it takes on the status of a participating belligerent. "It would be superfluous of me to inform your Lordship that this is war."

Now Charles Francis tells his wife that he can take that walk with her.  And tomorrow she can take the boxes down from the attic.  Abby asks gleefully:  "We're going home?"  "It would appear so.," says her husband. 

Lord Russell meets with Adams again.  Adams refuses a drink from Russell.  Russell tells the American ambassador that he is working on a note to him.  The British will block the departure of the ironclads.  He realizes that he will be legally and politically embarrassed by this action, but he will persevere.  The ships will not sail.  Adams gets a big smile on his face and says:  "I feel great relief, sir."  Adams now will have that drink with Russell.  He offers a toast:  They toast "to harmony for two great nations and a safe harbor for two men who have spent many hours sailing a hazardous course close to the wind."  Adams returns home.  His wife is obviously packing again to go back to the United States.  Adams asks her:  "What are you doing?"  They are packing, of course.  Adams says:  "Oh, we're not going home.  There's been a change in the diplomatic weather." 

It was five long years before the Adams family finally came home from Great Britain. 

 

Chapter 12.  Henry Adams, Historian. 

Charles Francis Adams II was an officer in the Civil War.  Henry Adams was secretary to his father when he was the minister to Great Britain.  In 1870 Charles became committed to big business and insisted business could be run by Adams's rules.  To Henry those rules seem to have been bypassed. 

Henry and Charles speak together.  Henry is considering an offer to be a professor at Harvard.  Charles does not like the idea.  He tells Henry not to hide in an ivory towers.  Charles says he can change the system for the better.  He tells his brother to stay in Washington, D.C. and help expose more of the existing corruption in the system.  In another room two women, Marian and Leticia,  talk together.  Leticia, who plays the piano, says that Henry is nice but she just can't abide a man who hates Boston and refuses to be quiet about it.  Meanwhile, Henry tells Charles:  "Let's go our separate way.  I'll be teaching at Harvard this fall."

At the Harvard library Henry runs into Marian.  They talk for awhile and Marian realizes that Henry is actually very shy.  She tells Henry what a pleasant surprise.  Her first impression about him was wrong. 

Henry dates Marian.  She asks him why did he come back to Boston.  He doesn't really say why.  Marian says she has been reading his articles and thinks he could one day be an important man. 

John Quincy Adams II runs for the governorship but loses.  The sons of Charles Francis Adams II (Henry, Charles, John Q. Adams II, and Brooks) want their father to run for the presidency.  They tell father that Horace Greeley is actively campaigning to be the candidate running against Grant.  Dad says, however, that he will not openly campaign for the presidency. 

Henry tells his father:  "In short, sir, I'm in love."  Dad wants to know if he can support Marian.  Henry says that his total income is $6,000 dollars per year.  His father tells him:  "She's used to more."  Meanwhile, Marian discusses Henry Adams with her father.  She tells her father she is very interested in the young man.  Henry goes back to his father to tell him that Marian has accepted him. 

Brooks Adams is with his father in Great Britain.  Dad gets a cable telling him that Horace Greeley has been chosen to run against Grant. 

Henry tells Marian that their honeymoon will be somewhat marred.  Onboard ship he will be constantly seasick.  Marian tells her father that it will be her last night in this house.  She kisses her father's hands.   Henry tells Marian that he would like to live in Washington, D.C. 

Fanny, the wife of John Q. Adams III, tells her in-laws that the last years has been the worst of her life.  She lost two of her children, Fanny and John Quincy Adams III, in such a short time.  She still has another child, Charles.  Charles speaks with Henry.  He says that Henry and Marian should have children.  Henry tells him:  "It's not possible."  Marian speaks with her father about Henry.  She says that Henry wants to leave Boston, but she hasn't agreed yet.  He father says she should go wherever Henry goes.  So later she tells Henry that she will go to Washington, D.C. with him.  Marian wants her husband to finish the novel he has been working on and publish it.  Henry tells her that he will need her help to finish it.

Charles Adams anonymously reviews Henry's Life of Albert Gallatin for the Nation.  The review  is very critical of Henry's efforts.  Herny is upset by the review and tells Marian that whoever wrote the review misunderstood the whole nature of the book. 

A young fellow, John, tells Henry and Marian that he has just read an anonymous novel entitled Democracy and loves it.  When Henry and Marian smile big smiles, John realizes that Herny is the actual author. 

Marian takes her father's portrait.  He seems a bit ill, but tells Marian it's nothing.  At a party a former student of Henry's named Hotchkiss attends.  He now works for non other than the infamous robber baron Jay Gould.  Hotchkiss is introduced to Senator and Mrs. Elizabeth Cameron.  Some of the men talk about the recent presidents, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield and Chester Arthur.  Marian tells Henry that his student Hotchkiss is nothing more than a lobbyist for Gould and she resents his lobbying activity.  He has been working over the Senator for a long time now.  When Hotchkiss comes over to talk with Henry and Marian, Marian insults him for his lobbying efforts, grabs her husband's arm and with him walks away from the lobbyist.   The fellow doesn't say a word in response. 

Marian writes another letter to her father.  She says her front house windows face the White House.  Henry receives a note telling him that Marian's father is very ill.  Marian rushes over to see her father.  She throws the nurse out, telling her that she will take care of her father.  She stays and nurses her dad for a long time.  She writes her husband that, of course, she misses him too.  Her father, meanwhile, tells Marian to go back to Washington and her husband.  But Marian refuses. 

Marian reads to her father while he tries to sleep.  She thinks he has fallen asleep and stops reading.  Her father opens his eyes and tells her don't stop reading.   She starts reading again, but after a short while, after hearing nothing from her father, stops and goes to his bedside.  Her father has died.  She cries. 

Henry and Marian with Elizabeth Cameron visit their new house.  While Marian scurries from room to room Henry and Elizabeth talk about Marian's struggle with depression since her father's death.  He says that the house has helped her a great deal.  Henry tells Marian that he wants one wall to decorate himself.  He wants to put some of his wife's photographs on the wall.  Marian says that there will be no photographs on the walls of their house. 

Marian works on a photograph in her dark room.  She doesn't like and destroys it.  Henry asks her to pleased help him look over the proofs of his new book about Thomas Jefferson.  She tells Henry that she will not.  She thinks the book is a mistake.  After all, it's more about John Adams than Thomas Jefferson.  What's the point then?  Henry looks very disappointed , turn and starts to leave.  Marian asks Henry to forgive her.  She says that it's just her mood.  She doesn't want to be like this, but she can't seem to help it. 

Sunday at 6 p.m. is the worst time for Marian.  This is the time her father and her would sit down to write letters to each other.  So on Sundays she now gets depressed.  This Sunday is no different.  She puts a photograph of her father in front of her on her desk and starts to write a letter to him.  When Henry comes in she says she is writing a letter to Ned, her brother.  Henry asks her to come downstairs to say goodbye to John.  She refuses.  She says John will understand.  And he will be back next week anyway.  She tells Henry to give John her love.  A little later Marilan goes into her dark room and pours herself a drink of some of the chemicals.  

Elizabeth arrives to asks Henry why he did not tell her about the death of Marian?  She feels very hurt.  She had to read about it in the newspaper. Henry tells her it was a case of suicide.  Elizabeth runs out of the house crying. 

Henry tells Charles that he is still going on that trip to Japan that he and his wife had planned.  He says:  "I want to understand our lives."  He comments that neither Charles nor he has everything they wanted.  Henry tells Charles thank for coming by.

 

Chapter 13.  Charles Francis Adams II, Industrialist.

Patriarch of the Adams family is Charles Francis Adams I.  Henry Adams is an historian.  Charles Francis Adams II is a businessman.  The two other sons/brothers are John Quincy Adams III and Brooks.  Brooks is currently writing a book. 

1886.  The Adams family gathers at Quincy, Massachusetts to take a family portrait. Charles Francis Adams II is involved with the Union Pacific Railroad.  He speaks with his brother Henry and defends himself by saying:  "I don't work for Jay Gould."  Henry replies:  "I'd rather travel alone than feast with jackals." 

Charles Francis speaks with Frederick L. Ames, the biggest shareholder in the Union Pacific.  Charles Francis is the president of the company, but he tells Fred that he (Fred) and Gould make all the real decisions. But now Charles Francis tells Fred that he wants to have his backing.  Fred asks Charles Francis if he would be ready to resign if he doesn't support him?  Charles Francis says yes because he can't allow himself to be used any longer.  He tells Fred if he had his support they could bring the headquarters of the Union Pacific to Boston.  Fred finally says that Charles Francis can count on his complete support.   

Charles Francis goes to visit Jay Gould.  Sidney Dillon, a Gould man on the board of directors of the Union Pacific, is with Gould.  Charles asks Dillon if it would be o.k. if he talked alone with Gould?  Dillon leaves.  Charles Francis gets right to business.  He says to Gould that he wants his resignation as director of the Union Pacific.  He already has the support of Fred Ames.  Gould makes it easy on Charles Francis.  He simply says:  "I resign."  And he wishes Charles Francis the best of luck.  But he does ask that Dillon be retained as a courtesy.  Charles Francis agrees. 

Charles Francis shows his daughter Molly a hybrid rose he has been working on.  He has to leave the garden because Mr. Crane has come for a visit.  Crane is with John Quincy Adams III.  Charles Francis does not want to see the expansion of the marble quarries in Quincy.  But Crane says the new people in Quincy support the idea of expansion.  Charles Francis tells Crane not to desecrate Quincy.  When Crane leaves, Charles Francis tells John Quincy that he should run for political office.  John Quincy tells his brother that he ran five times for the governorship of Massachusetts and five times he lost. 

W. H. Holcomb comes into the private railway car of Charles Francis and Fred Ames.  Charles says he wants to make Holcomb his new Vice-president of Operations.  But Holcomb is not interested and he wouldn't want to go back east for anything.  Holcomb says the Union Pacific has a lot of problems.  For instance, there are many unnecessary branches and not enough branches to the mines of the west.  Charles offers Holcomb the position and tells him he can operate out of Omaha, Nebraska.  Holcomb accepts. 

Henry is back from his trip to the Far East.  He tells Charles Francis that he will not be going to Quincy.  But Charles says, oh yes he will.  Father's dying.  The four sons are together with their father.  The advice he keeps giving them is "work and pray, work and pray".  The sons leave.  Dad asks his wife:  "Is anything left undone?"  "No, Charles," she says. 

Charles Francis speaks with Crane at the Quincy Quarry.  He complains that the quarrying is still going on.  Crane says there was nothing he could do.  It was the company's land and they had the right to continue quarrying.  And he also was outvoted on the council.  Charles Francis protests that Quincy is being gutted and disemboweled.  Crane then tells Charles straight out that he does not need his backing any more.  Charles says he will be sorry. 

Charles Francis says they have borrowed $4 million dollars because they are building a national railroad system.  He says Union Pacific can't afford to be too timid to borrow.  But Mr. Dillon is upset about so much borrowing.  After the meeting of the board of directors, Fred urges Charles Francis to take a holiday.  The man is so obsessed over the railroad that he needs a rest.  Dillon reports to Gould saying that Charles Francis doesn't understand the railway business and just keeps borrowing.

Charles Francis goes to Washington , D.C..  He tells some politicians that the Union Pacific needs a few million dollars, but he gets turned down.    Politics in Quincy is no more productive for Charles Francis than Washington, D.C.  He speaks at a council meeting for the preservation of opens spaces, old trees and areas for long country walks.  Most everyone in the room just keeps talking while Charles Francis tries to finish his statement.  He has to cut his remarks short.  A vote is taken on the motion of $2 dollars for nine hours of work and almost everyone votes for it except Charles Francis and John Quincy. 

Charles Francis decides to travel west on the railway on an inspection tour of the various branches.  Fred goes with him.  At night Fred gets up and tells Charles Francis that it is almost midnight.  Charles Francis is worried about the business returns.  They are down everywhere.  Fred tells him the country is headed for a depression.  Things are tough everywhere.  But Charles Francis wants to blame bad managers.  The next day he and Fred speak with Holcomb and Charles Francis accuses him of mismanagement.  Holcomb insists to Fred that every penny is accounted for in the books.  Fred believes him.  He tells Holcomb he can leave.  Charles Francis says it's a matter of stupidity and ineptitude and he asks Fred:  "Why do they all fail me?"  To make a long story short, the Union Pacific faces bankruptcy.  The company needs at least $4 million dollars. 

Henry tells Charles Francis that he will be traveling in the South Pacific for two years.  Then he will go to China to trace the Marco Polo trip to that country.   

The financial situation of the Union Pacific becomes so bad that Charles Francis has to go hat in hand to Jay Gould.  He admits to Gould that the company is in a financial crisis.  He summarizes it with two words;  expansion and debt.  Because they expanded railway operations, they borrowed and that left them in debt to the tune of millions of dollar.  And now the company obligations are coming due.  He has been turned down for loans by everyone.  This is why he has come to Gould for help. 

Gould says he has a plan to save the Union Pacific.  He will get postponements for all the creditor demands.  Charles Francis knows that he will have to turn the company over to Gould.  And Dillon will be the president once again.  Gould himself will become a director again and all his old chums will also be back in.  After Charles Francis leaves, Gould tells Dillon that at least the man went out like a gentleman  --  like a true Adams. 

Charles Francis sits with his sick wife Minnie.  He asks her about leaving Quincy for a house in Lincoln.  Minnie says if it will make Charles Francis happy, it will make her happy.  Charles Francis tells Fred that he lack combativeness.  But Fred says the Union Pacific was bound to fail.  Charles Francis tells Fred that now he personally owes more than $2 million dollars.  Fred asks Charles Francis how much money does he need.  Charles Francis says $900,000 dollars.  Fred tells him he will have it within the week.  He sums it up:  "The truth is, Charles, you're a very good man who never really understood anything."

It is moving out day at Quincy.  After two centuries at Quincy the Adams are now leaving. 

 

A good mini-series.  My wife and I watched the mini-series about John Adams first.  I thought watching the Adams Chronicles would be less interesting after the John Adams mini-series because so much time and detail was spent on the lives of  John and Abigail Adams in the John Adams series.  But that was not the case.  Different aspects were discussed in the 1976 series that were not discussed in the 2008 series.   The 1976 series, for instance, covered the period in which John Adams first met Abigail Smith.  And the section on John Quincy Adams brought a whole new group of interesting stories.  Even the chapters on Charles Francis Adams I, who was never President of the United States, was very interesting.  As Minister to Great Britain at the time of the American Civil War, it was interesting how Charles Francis and Lord Russell kept Britain truly neutral so the South would not receive any foreign assistance.  The chapters on brothers Henry Adams and Charles Francis Adams II were not as inherently interesting as the other chapters, because of the lesser positions the brother held (an historian and an industrialist, respectively), but they were still interesting stories. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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