Envoy Charles Francis Adams – US Passport 1861 in London

ADAMS, Charles Francis, (son of John Quincy Adams, grandson of John Adams), A Representative from Massachusetts; born in Boston, Mass., August 18, 1807; spent several years with his parents in St. Petersburg, Russia; attended the Boston Latin School, and was graduated from Harvard University in 1825; studied law; was admitted to the bar on January 6, 1829, and commenced practice in Boston; member of the Massachusetts house of representatives 1841-1843; member of the Massachusetts state senate 1844-1845; founded the newspaper Boston Whig in 1846; unsuccessful candidate of the Free-Soil Party for Vice President of the United States in 1848; elected as a Republican to the Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh Congresses and served from March 4, 1859, to May 1, 1861, when he resigned to accept a diplomatic position; chairman, Committee on Manufactures (Thirty-sixth Congress); appointed by President Lincoln as Minister to England and served from March 20, 1861, to May 13, 1868; declined the presidency of Harvard University but became one of its overseers in 1869; died in Boston, Mass., November 21, 1886; interment in Mount Wollaston Cemetery, Quincy, Norfolk County, Mass. Charles Francis Adams Passport

Charles Francis Adams Passport
Legation of the United States Of America in England, London, October 28, 1861

As the Civil War broke out, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Charles Francis Adams (CFA) (1807-1886), the third son of John.

 Quincy and Louisa Catherine (Johnson) Adams, to the position of minister to the Court of St. James’s, previously held by his father and grandfather, John Adams. Charles Francis Adams served as a Republican U.S. House of Representatives member from 1858 until 1861. Along with his wife, Abigail Brooks Adams, and their kids, Brooks, Henry, and Mary, CFA sailed from East Boston on May 1, 1861. Charles Francis Adams Passport

CFA and his family arrived in London on the same day that Great Britain recognized the Confederacy as a belligerent. He was immediately responsible for upholding British neutrality and avoiding the development of Southern sympathies at the Court of St. James’s. CFA found court life uncomfortable despite his cosmopolitan upbringing (he spent many of his early years traveling on diplomatic missions with his father). Nevertheless, he crossed paths with a veritable who’s-who, including Charles Dickens, Lord Russell, the former and current Prime Minister, and Prince Albert. Charles Francis Adams Passport

These diaries, which follow CFA from January 1861 to April 1865, are a remarkable resource that hasn’t been fully utilized up to this point. They provide a foreign-based American perspective on the Civil War and insights into CFA’s adamant antislavery beliefs, his fascinating, convoluted view of President Lincoln, and his ambivalence toward Reconstruction. The Adams Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society include CFA’s manuscript diaries. For more information, consult the collection guide. Charles Francis Adams Passport


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