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hinted, but he learned to respect his knowledge, his diplomatic skill, and his evident integrity. These things were essentials in the era of "good feeling" which Mr. Monroe hoped to see brought about during his term.
Mr. Adams was acquainted with the politics of all Europe; he was not a party man; he knew well all the usages and forms of diplomacy, was acquainted with foreign politicians, was quite familiar with the languages of all of the leading foreign courts, and in short, was, in most respects, the best qualified man in America for tKe position to which he was appointed. So Mr. Monroe thought, and doubtlessly this was the real sentiment of most of Mr. Monroe's advisers. It is not probable that Mr. Madison, and even Thomas Jefferson, did not advise, or at least acquiesce in, Mr. Adams's appointment.
On the 6th of August, Mr. Adams reached New York, where-he was received with marked distinction, as he was a few days later in Boston. In Tammany Hall he banqueted with several hundred of the leading citizens; and in Boston he was similarly fed in public, his venerable father making one of the company.
On the 20th of September he reached Washington, and two days subsequently subscribed to the oath of office before Robert Brent, a justice of the peace, and at once entered upon the duties of his position. On the day previous, he wrote the following beautiful poetic prayer in his Diary:—
O God, my only trust wast thou
Lo, at thy throne again I bow,
Thy aid, O Father, wilt thou lend?
My thoughts wilt thou inspire?
My breast to virtue fire?
Thy gracious wisdom to fulfill
My constant aim incline, «
Grant for my feeble, faltering will
The unerring strength of thine.
Grant active powers, grant fervid zeal,
And guide by thy control,
The purpose of my soul.
Thine be the purpose, thine the deed,
Which thou alone canst bless.
O, crown them with success!
Extend, all-seeing God, thy hand,
In mercy still decree,
An instrument of me.
At this time he also made this entry in the Diary:—
"From the information given me by Mr. Boyd, the path before me is beset by thorns, and it becomes more doubtful than ever whether I shall be able to continue longer in it. At two distinct periods of my life, heretofore, my position has been perilous and full of anxious forecast, but never so critical and precarious as at this time."
The way before him was, indeed, doubtful and difficult, and to conquer its obstacles, unaided, was the hard task on which he entered. However little he had been concerned in the politics of the country, and however little the loud-mouthed and irresponsible politicians were acquainted with his real character, it was soon found that his enemies were numerous. Hard names were applied in every possible way to him, and no effort was omitted by unprincipled men to show Mr. Monroe that he was full of duplicity, a heartless friend of oligarchies, a despiser of his race, an intolerable hindrance in the way to a successful Administration. But Mr. Monroe's mind was not shaken or poisoned; and in nothing more did he illustrate his good disposition and wisdom than in standing firmly by his Secretary of State, whose ability and integrity were destined to add no little to the honor and succer of his Administration.
Mr. Monroe had hardly got fairly into office when the momentous question as to his successor became the first theme among restless politicians and chronic disturbers of the peace, notwithstanding the general opinion that his term would be doubled, as had been the case with his Democratic successors.
Mr. Adams's position, if nothing more, fixed the general supposition of his candidacy for the succession at some time. Whatever might be his own views on the subject his opponents did not stop to inquire. Every fault of the Administration which was possible was put to his discredit, and every exertion was made in the unfriendly newspapers, and even in Congress, to break him down and dispel his prospects.
Concerning this matter Mr. Adams wrote:—
"My office of Secretary of State makes it the interest of all partisans of the candidates for the next Presidency (to say no more) to decry me as much as possible in the public opinion. The most conspicuous of these candidates are Crawford, the Secretary of the Treasury, Clay, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and De Witt Clinton, Governor of New York. Clay expected himself to have been Secretary of State, and he and all his creatures were disappointed by my appointment. He is, therefore, coming out as the head of a new opposition in Congress to Mr. Monroe's Administration, and he makes no scruples of giving the tone to all his party in running me down.
"Clinton's party operate in another way. . . .
"Of Crawford's rivalry I have yet had no other evidence than what has seemed to me a sort of effort to differ from me in opinions concerning the important measures to be pursued by the Administration, and a disposition to impress upon my mind every particular of Clay's operations against me.
"When Everett was here he asked me if it would not be advisable to expose Clay's conduct and motives in the newspapers, to which T answered very explicitly in the negative. He also asked me it I was determined to do nothing with a view to promote my future election to the Presidency as the successor of Mr. Monroe. I told him I should do absolutely nothing. He said that as others would not be so scrupulous, I should not stand upon equal footing with them. I told him that was not my fault, my business was to serve the public to the best of my abilities in the station assigned me, and not to intrigue for further advancement. I never, by the most distant hint to any one, experienced a wish for any public office, and I should not now begin to ask for that which, of all others, ought to be most freely and spontaneously bestowed."
'On entering his new position one of the greatest sources of annoyance to Mr. Adams sprang from the race of eager office-hunters, who beset him from every quarter, ready to charge against him the failure of their desires, and attribute to the President their successes over his ill disposition. William S. Smith, his nephew, whom he found acting as a clerk under the Government, he was asked to shift into some other place to make room for one of the more consequential in the hungry army. To this Mr. Adams said that he could take no relative into his office, nor could he recommend one for appointment in another department. Smith was, accordingly, dismissed, and, although he soon got into another place, Mr. Adams wrote in the Diary that Smith and his wife and all the family were up in arms against him. Still this did not deter him from pursuing the course he believed to be right.
Toward the close of August, 1818, Mr. Adams made a visit to Massachusetts, which was the last time he saw his mother, who died on the 28th of October of that year. Of his attachment to her there is no doubt. For this attachment he had every good reason beyond mere fashionable cant, although much of his systematically recorded tenderness for her and praise of her may seem, to some extent, the result of his studied effort to put himself in a good and humble light. When he received word of her death he remained from the State office for a day or two, and at his house, as he says, "After indulging the weakness of nature, I wrote letters to my father and to my son John."
The coldness and heartlessness of which he was always accused does not appear in such conduct. The fact is, Mr. Adams possessed a sensitive, high-strung, refined, poetic, and emotional disposition, and never became so old or great or dignified that he could not shed a tear, feel a loss, or burst into prayer from sentiments of gratitude or feelings of his own littleness.
Of his mother he wrote in the Diary :—
"There is not a virtue that can abide in the female heart but it was the ornament of hers. She had been fifty years the delight of my father's heart, the sweetener of all his toils, the comforter of all his sorrows, the sharer and heighteuer of all his joys. It was but the last time when I saw my father that he told me, with an ejaculation of gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, that in all the vicissitudes of his fortunes, through all the good report and evil report of the world, in all his struggles and all his sorrows, the affectionate participation