Biography of Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886)

Politician and United States diplomat, born in Boston August 18, 1807 and died in that same city on November 21, 1886. Son of John Quincy Adams and grandson of John Adams, both Presidents of the United States, grew up linked to high politics from his earliest childhood. As diplomatic representative of the United States before the British Government between 1860 and 1868, he/she was instrumental in securing British neutrality in the American civil war and was one of the founders of contemporary diplomacy.

He received a refined cosmopolitan education. He/She spent his early years in Russia, where his father served as Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the US Government since 1809. In 1815 he/she moved to London with his family, be named his father Ambassador to the British Government. On his return to the United States two years later, he/she joined the prestigious Harvard University, graduating in law in 1825. During the presidential term of his father (1825-1829), Charles Francis lived in the White House, continuing his training in law and introducing in the highest political circles of the country. In 1829, he/she began to practice law, which he/she with his militancy in the whig party.

During the 1840s he/she served a six year term as representative of the party in the Parliament of the State of Massachusetts, taking charge in addition to the edition of its provincial body, The Boston Whig. In the years prior to the outbreak of the American civil war (1861-1865), Adams played in the abolitionist party stream and claimed a posture of greater hardness against the defenders of slavery Southern States. In 1848 the abolitionists broke with the majority tendency of the whig party and were integrated into the anti-slavery Free Soil Party (Party of the free land) coalition, of which Adams was appointed Vice-President.(See the American abolitionism in abolitionism).

In 1856, when was founded in Republican party, Adams joined its ranks and that same year was elected their representative to the Parliament of Massachusetts. In 1858 and 1860 he/she was elected Deputy for the United States Congress on behalf of the State and as head of the electoral district that had once been holder his father. In 1860, when he/she beat the Republican Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election, Adams was appointed Plenipotentiary to Great Britain by the new Secretary of State and intimate friend of his, William H. Seward.

The outbreak of the civil war in 1861 to Adams faced the arduous task of ensuring British neutrality against the American civil war. Upon arrival to London in May of that year, the British Government had already given letter of belligerence to the rogue States of the Confederation. Both public opinion and the Government British were favorable to the southern side and supporters of armed intervention. The main objectives of Adams during the next four years were the maintenance of British neutrality and preventing diplomatic recognition of the Government of the Confederacy by Great Britain, especially after the proclamation of southern emancipation in January 1863.

Despite the ongoing tensions between the Governments in London and Washington, Adams was able to preserve the delicate diplomatic balance bilateral and ensure no British intervention in the conflict. However, his work was marked by serious crises which, on several occasions, were on the verge of causing the outbreak of a new Anglo-American war. One of its main objectives during these years was to prevent construction and launching by English owners of vessels of war to the Confederation. In May 1862 Adams failed to prevent the destroyer Alabama port, but its efforts with the London Government prevented other British ships joined the Confederate side. Adams protested strongly against the damage caused to the trade of the Union by the Alabama, estimated at six million dollars.

His performance at the head of American diplomacy to his ancient metropolis earned him great political prestige, which was accompanied a growing consideration of European Governments towards the United States. In 1868, Adams resigned his post in London, but did not abandon diplomacy. In 1871-72, represented his Government before the International Arbitration Commission gathered in Genoa, was commissioned to estimate the British responsibilities in violation of neutrality as a result of the intervention of the Alabama. The role played by Adams in this process made him one of the founders of the contemporary international law based on the arbitration system.

Charles Francis Adams dealt personally with the publication of the works of his grandfather, John Adams, published in ten volumes between 1850 and 1856, and the autobiography of his father, John Quincy Adams, which appeared between 1874 and 1877. In 1900, his son, Charles Francis Adams Jr., wrote a biography of this illustrious founder of contemporary international law.