April 12

Monday, April 12th.—No mail to-day. This has been a very quiet day, fewer columns, aeroplanes, and guns, and the three bad officers holding their own so far. The others come and go.

Weather comfortable and warm, but few clouds and very little wind. If the weather still continues fine a few days longer the army will make an advance without doubt; have been talking with our sutler's clerk, Huntington, who was a lieutenant in the rebel army thirteen months, but being a Vermonter, on the death of his wife and child who were living in the south, he deserted to our army.

April 12, 1864

Tuesday. Having no orders to do otherwise, I kept out among the stragglers to learn what I could. The wounded have mostly been sent down the river for better treatment than can be had here on the hospital boats. It is said that several boats are above here, some aground and others helping them off, while all the time the Rebs are firing on them from the shore. One story is that reinforcements are being hurried up the river from Alexandria and other points below.

April Twelfth

From this time a clear-cut issue was formulated and presented to the States and the people. The “firing upon the flag of the nation” was made the immediate pretext for aggressive measures against the Lower South. As so heralded, it served to inflame the hearts of thousands who, it seems, had not noticed or who had forgotten, as it is forgotten to-day, that this was not the first firing upon the Stars and Stripes. The flag had been fired upon from the coast of South Carolina as early as January 9, 1861, for the same reason as that which provoked attack upon it on April 12.

[From introduction to “The Battle of Baltimore,” The Sun, April 9, 1911.]


Fort Sumter fired on by Beauregard, 1861

North Carolina instructs her delegates to the Continental Congress to declare for independence, 1776

Henry Clay born, 1777



93. John Adams

12 April, 1776.

I inclose a few sheets of paper,[133] and will send more as fast as opportunities present.

Chesterfield's letters [134] are a chequered set. You would not choose to have them in your library. They are like Congreve's plays, stained with libertine morals and base principles.

You will see by the papers the news, the speculations, and the political plans of the day. The ports are opened wide enough at last, and privateers are allowed to prey upon British trade. This is not independency, you know. What is? Why, government in every colony, a confederation among them all, and treaties with foreign nations to acknowledge us a sovereign state, and all that. When these things will be done, or any of them, time must discover. Perhaps the time is near, perhaps a great way off.


[133]Writing-paper was scarce and very indifferent, owing to the interruption of all business during the occupation of Boston.

[134]Mrs. Adams had expressed a wish to read this book, then lately published.

228. John Adams

Passy, in France, 12 April, 1778.

I am so sensible of the difficulty of conveying letters safe to you, that I am afraid to write anything more than to tell you that after all the fatigues and dangers of my voyage and journey I am here in health.

The reception I have met in this kingdom has been as friendly, as polite, and as respectful as was possible. It is the universal opinion of the people here, of all ranks, that a friendship between France and America is the interest of both countries, and the late alliance, so happily formed, is universally popular; so much so, that I have been told by persons of good judgment that the government here would have been under a sort of necessity of agreeing to it, even if it had not been agreeable to themselves. The delights of France are innumerable. The politeness, the elegance, the softness, the delicacy, are extreme. In short, stern and haughty republican as I am, I cannot help loving these people for their earnest desire and assiduity to please.

It would be futile to attempt descriptions of this country, especially of Paris and Versailles. The public buildings and gardens, the paintings, sculpture, architecture, music, etc., of these cities have already filled many volumes. The richness, the magnificence and splendor are beyond all description. This magnificence is not confined to public buildings, such as Churches, hospitals, schools, etc., but extends to private houses, to furniture, equipage, dress, and especially to entertainments. But what is all this to me? I receive but little pleasure in beholding all these things, because I cannot but consider them as bagatelles, introduced by time and luxury in exchange for the great qualities and hardy, manly virtues of the human heart. I cannot help suspecting that the more elegance, the less virtue, in all times and countries. Yet I fear that even my own dear country wants the power and opportunity more than the inclination to be elegant, soft, and luxurious.

All the luxury I desire in this world is the company of my dearest friend, and my children, and such friends as they delight in, which I have sanguine hopes I shall, after a few years, enjoy in peace. I am, with inexpressible affection

Yours, yours,     John Adams.