February 20

February 20, 1863

Captain Bostwick came to see me to-day. Two men died last night, one in the hospital and the other in his tent. I don't feel as well to-day.

A very pleasant day but not warm. The men have been playing ball this afternoon; very dull otherwise; paymaster has come; have been very busy having men sign pay rolls. There is a detail for picket tomorrow, but I am not going.

February Twentieth

After the passage of the Anti-Ku Klux Statute by the State of Tennessee, several instances occurred of parties being arrested in Ku Klux disguises; but in every case they proved to be either negroes or “radical” Brownlow Republicans. This occurred so often that the statute was allowed by the party in power to become a dead letter before its repeal. It bore too hard on the “loyal” men when enforced.

J. C. Lester  and D. L. Wilson


As the young German patriots of 1812 organized their struggle for liberty under the noses of the garrisons of Napoleon, so these daring men, girt by thousands of bayonets, discussed and adopted under the cover of darkness the ritual of “The Invisible Empire.”

Thomas Dixon, Jr.


Governor Brownlow of Tennessee calls out the militia to suppress the Ku Klux Klan, 1869

Federal troops defeated at Olustee, Fla., 1864



Saturday, February 20th, 9 p.m.—We've had a very unsatisfactory day, loading up at four different places, and still on our way down. I'm just going to lie down, to be called at 2 a.m. Now we're four: two go to bed for the whole night and the other two take the train for half the night when we have a light load, as to-day. If they are all bad cases, we have two on and two off for the two watches. We have some Indians on to-day, but most British, and not many blessés.

The other day a huge train of reinforcements got divided by mistake: the engine went off with all the officers, and the men had a joy-ride to themselves, invaded the cafés, where they sometimes get half poisoned, and in half an hour's time there was a big scrap among themselves, with fifty casualties. So the story runs.

A humane and fatherly orderly has just brought me a stone hot-water bottle for my feet as I write this in the rather freezing dispensary coach in the middle of the train, in between my rounds. All the worst cases and the Indians were put off at B., and the measles, mumps, and diphtherias, so there isn't much to do; some are snoring like an aeroplane.

February 20

February 20th.--I have almost finished these two volumes of Pensées and the greater part of the Correspondance. This last has especially charmed me; it is remarkable for grace, delicacy, atticism, and precision. The chapters on metaphysics and philosophy are the most insignificant. All that has to do with large views with the whole of things, is very little at Joubert's command; he has no philosophy of history, no speculative intuition. He is the thinker of detail, and his proper field is psychology and matters of taste. In this sphere of the subtleties and delicacies of imagination and feeling, within the circle of personal affectation and preoccupations, of social and educational interests, he abounds in ingenuity and sagacity, in fine criticisms, in exquisite touches. It is like a bee going from flower to flower, a teasing, plundering, wayward zephyr, an Aeolian harp, a ray of furtive light stealing through the leaves. Taken as a whole, there is something impalpable and immaterial about him, which I will not venture to call effeminate, but which is scarcely manly. He wants bone and body: timid, dreamy, and clairvoyant, he hovers far above reality. He is rather a soul, a breath, than a man. It is the mind of a woman in the character of a child, so that we feel for him less admiration than tenderness and gratitude.

247. John Adams

Passy, 20 February, 1779.

In the margin [203] are the dates of all the letters I have received from you. I have written you several times that number. They are almost all lost, I suppose by yours. But you should consider it is a different thing to have five hundred correspondents and but one. It is a different thing to be under an absolute restraint and under none. It would be an easy thing for me to ruin you and your children by an indiscreet letter, and what is more, it would be easy to throw our country into convulsions. For God's sake never reproach me again with not writing or with writing scrips. Your wounds are too deep. You know not, you feel not, the dangers that surround me nor those that may be brought upon our country. Millions would not tempt me to write you as I used. I have no security that every letter I write you will not be broken open, and copied, and transmitted to Congress and to English newspapers. They would find no treason nor deceit in them, it is true, but they would find weakness and indiscretion, which they would make as ill a use of.

There are spies upon every word I utter, and every syllable I write. Spies planted by the English, spies planted by stock-jobbers, spies planted by selfish merchants, and spies planted by envious and malicious politicians. I have been all along aware of this, more or less, but more so now than ever. My life has been often in danger, but I never considered my reputation and character so much in danger as now. I can pass for a fool, but I will not pass for a dishonest or mercenary man. Be upon your guard, therefore. I must be upon mine, and I will.


[203]25 March. 18 May. 10, 18 June. 10, 21, 25 October. 2, 15 December, 1778. 2, 4 January, 1779. Many of these are missing.

246. John Adams

Passy, 20 February, 1779.

A new commission has arrived by which the Dr.[201] is sole minister. Mr. Lee continues commissioner for Spain, but I am reduced to the condition of a private citizen. The Congress have not taken the least notice of me. On the 11th of September they resolved to have one minister only in France. On the 14th they chose the Dr. In October they made out his commission, the Alliance  sailed on the 14th January, and in all that interval they never so much as bid me come home, bid me stay, or told me I had done well or done ill. Considering the accusation against Mr. Lee,[202] how unexpected it was and how groundless it is, I should not be at all surprised if I should see an accusation against me for something or other, I know not what, but I see that all things are possible.

Of all the scenes I ever passed through, this is the most extraordinary. The delirium among Americans here is the most extravagant. All the infernal arts of stock-jobbers, all the voracious avarice of merchants, have mingled themselves with American politics here, disturbed their operations, distracted our counsels, and turned our heads.

The Congress, I presume, expect that I should come home, and I shall come accordingly. As they have no business for me in Europe, I must contrive to get some for myself at home. Prepare yourself for removing to Boston, into the old house, for there you shall go, and there I will draw writs and deeds, and harangue juries, and be happy.



[202]Made by Silas Deane to Congress.

Cannes Feb. 20, 1882

I spent at Rome a most interesting fortnight, explaining the history of the Church and of the world to M., listening to a great debate on the representation of minorities, and hearing a good deal of the M.P.[162 ] who neither has nor has not a mission. We wound up with two days at Florence, and I accompanied M. to Genoa, along the finest part of the Riviera, and then went to Bologna, to a dying relation. All which has stood in the way of coming home, of writing, and of knowing what is going on. I am reading up the debates, and your letters light up the task.


Bonghi, who has a volume of Roman History ready, spent an afternoon with me in the Forum; but proved unsound about Ireland. Minghetti took us over the palace of the Cæsars, as they call the Palatine. I took M. the round of imperial statues and monuments of the Popes, hanging a tale to each, and I am afraid her impressions of history are gloomy. We made up for it a little at Santa Croce, with Dante and Fossombroni; and in Savonarola's cell at S. Marco, I sat in his chair, and told her of the friar who died for his belief that the way to make men better was to make them free.

I was not happy about Errington. Everybody spoke well of him. But there was too manifest a desire to amplify the significance of his position, and to entangle him in Roman schemes and views.

Schlözer's first visit was to me, as we lived in the same house, and are old friends. They, at least, have something to offer; but the mission seems to me very ambiguous.

I have long wished for that declaration about self-government; but I am persuaded that there has been as much statesmanship in the choice of the time as of the terms. There is so much danger of being deserted on that line, and of one's friends combining to effect a reaction. It will not do to make too much of the speech of 1871. The occasion, last week, gave extraordinary weight to Mr. Gladstone's words; and he would not now say that the movement is superfluous, or that Ireland always got what she wanted. The risk is that he may seem to underrate the gravity of a great constitutional change, in the introduction of a federal element.

Liberty depends on the division of power. Democracy tends to unity of power. To keep asunder the agents, one must divide the sources; that is, one must maintain, or create, separate administrative bodies. In the view of increasing democracy, a restricted federalism is the one possible check upon concentration and centralism.

But I am very anxious about one thing. If Mr. Gladstone thinks that he cannot carry his colleagues, his party, Parliament, or the nation with him, and declines to take the lead in this movement, the throwing out of the idea may become a source of weakness. They will say that he waits for the initiative of others, that he is expecting a wind, that he is ready to be squeezed, if others will do it for him, that he looks on opinion as a thing to be obeyed, not to be guided—and so will proceed to put pressure on him and to make demonstrations not at all in conformity with his spirit and purpose.

[162 ] Sir George Errington.