Charles Francis Adams, 1835-1915: A Autobiography with a Memorial Address

Charles Francis Adams, 1835-1915: A Autobiography with a Memorial Address

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Charles Francis Adams, 1835-1915: A Autobiography with a Memorial Address

Charles Francis Adams, 1835-1915: A Autobiography with a Memorial Address

Read FREE!

Excerpt

That winter I went on to Washington on the 18th of February, and remained until the 13th of March, staying over Lincoln's inauguration, of which I was a witness. An intensely interesting period, we all in a way realized its nature. And yet I now wonder at our lack of prescience and general incapacity, North and South, to realize even in a remote degree the imminence as well as magnitude of the impending catastrophe. Something would surely happen to avert it! We did n't know what -- we could n't even suggest a "something"; but we clung to the childish belief all the same. Consequently, neither as a whole nor as individuals did we make any preparation. Perhaps it was just as well; and yet there was the flag flying over Fort Sumter, with the eyes of the whole country directed that way! Still, I cannot now but wonder at my own purblindness; for I was at the time in position to know fairly well what was going on, being in close contact with prominent men, and an interested if not a keen observer. Of course I had no share in events or influence over them -- no one that I know of did. We were, as I now see, drifting -- drifting into an inevitable and close impending war; but this we could not realize, and every day brought with it reports, doubts, hopes and fears. My record of that period was quite complete, what with diary and letters, and has now an historical value of the lesser sort; for it shows what the plan, so far as they had one, of Seward and my father was, as they groped their way along. My . . .

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