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Like His Fathers Before Him

June 20, 2018

Charles Francis Adams was the son and grandson of Presidents.  In 1848 he ran for Vice President on the doomed Free Soil ticket.  It was the least he could do to honor his antislavery father who had died earlier that year.  Like his father, he was eventually elected to Congress after having lost a national election.

The year that Charles Francis Adams was re-elected to Congress, a former one-term Congressman who had served with his father was elected President.  Surely the new Administration would recognize the Cabinet needed the services of the current patriarch of the Adams family.  After all, the incoming President had been a member of the committee which made the funeral arrangements for Congressman and former President John Quincy Adams.  If the new President did not have the ability to discern talent, at least he would be bound by sentiment.

So, what Cabinet post would be offered?  Secretary of State?  No, that would go to William Seward; but then Seward would probably recommend Adams for another post, perhaps Treasury Secretary.  That might put him in line to be Seward’s successor.  He might even be President himself someday.    His father had been Secretary of State before he was elected President.  Perhaps he would follow the same path.

But Charles Francis Adams was not going to be a member of the Cabinet.  Instead, he would receive an altogether different appointment.  It was not what he had hoped for, but it was an appointment that both his father and grandfather had received and accepted in their day.

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