Adams, Charles Francis

born Aug. 18, 1807, Boston, Mass., U.S.
died Nov. 21, 1886, Boston

U.S. diplomat.

The son of John Quincy Adams and the grandson of John Adams, he served in the Massachusetts legislature and edited a Whig journal. He helped form the antislavery Free-Soil Party and in 1848 was chosen its candidate for U.S. vice president. As ambassador to Britain (1861–68) he was instrumental in securing Britain's neutrality during the American Civil War and in promoting the arbitration of the Alabama claims.

Charles Francis Adams

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

* * *

▪ American diplomat
born Aug. 18, 1807, Boston, Mass., U.S.
died Nov. 21, 1886, Boston
 U.S. diplomat who played an important role in keeping Britain neutral during the U.S. Civil War (1861–65) and in promoting the arbitration of the important “Alabama” claims (Alabama claims).

      The son of Pres. John Quincy Adams and the grandson of Pres. John Adams, Charles was early introduced to a cosmopolitan way of life when his father was appointed minister to Russia in 1809. He graduated from Harvard in 1825, and then, during his father's presidency (1825–29), lived for two years in the White House, studying law and moving freely among the political leaders of the period.

      In the 1840s Adams served for six years as a member of the Massachusetts legislature and as the editor of a party journal, the Boston Whig. He felt, however, that the Whigs should take a more forthright position against the extension of slavery into the territories, and when, in 1848, the so-called Conscience Whigs broke with the party to form the antislavery Free-Soil Party, Adams received the vice-presidential nomination of the new coalition.

      The emergence of the Republican Party in 1856 offered Adams the permanent political affiliation he was seeking, and he was elected to the U.S. Congress from his father's old district in 1858. When the Republicans won at the polls two years later, Adams was named ambassador to Great Britain by his close friend William H. Seward, the new secretary of state.

      Civil war broke out in April 1861, and, when Adams arrived in London the following month, he found that Great Britain had already recognized Confederate belligerency. So much sympathy was shown in England for the South that Adams' path for the next seven years was strewn with difficulties, but his logic, reserve, and directness appealed to the British, and gradually he won their support.

      His main mission was to prevent the British from abandoning neutrality, and, with the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863), the immediate danger of diplomatic recognition of the South was over. Adams then laboured to prevent the building or the outfitting at British shipyards of privateers for Confederate use. He had not been able to prevent the sailing (May 1862) of the highly effective commerce destroyer “Alabama,” but his vigorous protestations of the obligations of neutrals succeeded in preventing further launchings. Furthermore, he persistently argued the British government's responsibility for the estimated $6,000,000 worth of damage done by the “Alabama” to Federal merchant vessels. During this long and taxing period in Anglo-American relations, Adams' judicious and balanced conduct greatly enhanced the reputation of his country abroad.

      From 1871 to 1872 Adams served as U.S. arbiter on the international commission (international law) that met at Geneva to settle the “Alabama” claims. His name is inseparable from this seminal work in forwarding the concept of world law through arbitration. He edited Works of John Adams (1850–56) and Memoirs of John Quincy Adams (1874–77).

Additional Reading
Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Charles Francis Adams (1900, reprinted 1980), is a biography by his son. A more recent work is Martin B. Duberman, Charles Francis Adams, 1807–1886 (1960).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Adams,Charles Francis — Adams, Charles Francis. 1807 1886. American public official who as an ambassador during the Civil War helped dissuade Great Britain from officially recognizing the Confederacy. * * * …   Universalium

  • Adams, Charles Francis — ► (1807 86) Diplomático y escritor estadounidense. Autor de unas Memorias. * * * (2 ago. 1866, Quincy, Mass., EE.UU.–11 jun.1954, Boston, Mass.). Diplomático estadounidense. Hijo de John Quincy Adams y nieto de John Adams, se desempeñó en el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Adams, Charles Francis, III — ▪ United States official born Aug. 2, 1866, Quincy, Mass., U.S. died June 11, 1954, Boston, Mass.       American lawyer and businessman, government official, yachtsman, and philanthropist who made Harvard University one of the most abundantly… …   Universalium

  • Charles Francis Adams, Jr. — Charles F. Adams, Jr. en août 1864 Charles Francis Adams II (27 mai 1835 20 mai 1915) fils de Charles Francis Adams, Sr. , est un membre de la grande famille des Adams [1] . Il est colonel de l Union Army pendant la guerre de Sécessi …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Charles Francis Adams, Sr. — Charles Francis Adams Charles Francis Adams, Sr. (* 18. August 1807 in Boston, Massachusetts; † 21. November 1886 ebd.) war ein US amerikanischer Jurist und Politiker. Er war der Sohn von John Quincy Adams, dem 6.  …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Charles Francis Adams junior — Charles Francis Adams Jr. (* 27. Mai 1835; † 20. Mai 1915) war ein US amerikanischer General und Unternehmer. Adams entstammte einer prominenten Bostoner Politikerfamilie. Sowohl sein Urgroßvater John Adams als auch sein Großvater John Quincy… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Charles Francis Adams III — For other people named Charles Francis Adams, see Charles Francis Adams. Charles Francis Adams III 44th United States Secretary of the Navy In office March 5, 1929 – March 4, 1933 Preceded by Curtis D. Wilbur Succeeded by …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Francis Adams, Jr. — For other people named Charles Francis Adams, see Charles Francis Adams. Charles Francis Adams II Born May 27, 1835 …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Francis Adams, Sr. — For other people named Charles Francis Adams, see Charles Francis Adams. Charles Francis Adams Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts s 3rd district …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Francis Adams IV — For other people named Charles Francis Adams, see Charles Francis Adams. Charles Francis Adams IV (May 2, 1910 – January 5, 1999)[1] was a U.S. electronics industrialist. He served as the first president of the Raytheon Company between 1948 and… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.