Chapter XVIII (The Education of Henry Adams)

Free Fight (1869-1870)

THE old New Englander was apt to be a solitary animal, but the
young New Englander was sometimes human. Judge Hoar brought his son
Sam to Washington, and Sam Hoar loved largely and well. He taught
Adams the charm of Washington spring. Education for education, none
ever compared with the delight of this. The Potomac and its
tributaries squandered beauty. Rock Creek was as wild as the Rocky
Mountains. Here and there a negro log cabin alone disturbed the
dogwood and the judas-tree, the azalea and the laurel. The tulip and
the chestnut gave no sense of struggle against a stingy nature. The
soft, full outlines of the landscape carried no hidden horror of
glaciers in its bosom. The brooding heat of the profligate vegetation;
the cool charm of the running water; the terrific splendor of the June
thunder-gust in the deep and solitary woods, were all sensual, animal,
elemental. No European spring had shown him the same intermixture of
delicate grace and passionate depravity that marked the Maryland
May. He loved it too much, as though it were Greek and half human.
He could not leave it, but loitered on into July, falling into the
Southern ways of the summer village about La Fayette Square, as one
whose rights of inheritance could not be questioned. Few Americans
were so poor as to question them.
In spite of the fatal deception- or undeception- about Grant’s
political character, Adams’s first winter in Washington had so much
amused him that he had not a thought of change. He loved it too much
to question its value. What did he know about its value, or what did
any one know? His father knew more about it than any one else in
Boston, and he was amused to find that his father, whose recollections
went back to 1820, betrayed for Washington much the same sentimental
weakness, and described the society about President Monroe much as his
son felt the society about President Johnson. He feared its effect
on young men, with some justice, since it had been fatal to two of his
brothers; but he understood the charm, and he knew that a life in
Quincy or Boston was not likely to deaden it.
Henry was in a savage humor on the subject of Boston. He saw
Boutwells at every counter. He found a personal grief in every tree.
Fifteen or twenty years afterwards, Clarence King used to amuse him by
mourning over the narrow escape that nature had made in attaining
perfection. Except for two mistakes, the earth would have been a
success. One of these errors was the inclination of the ecliptic;
the other was the differentiation of the sexes, and the saddest
thought about the last was that it should have been so modern.
Adams, in his splenetic temper, held that both these unnecessary evils
had wreaked their worst on Boston. The climate made eternal war on
society, and sex was a species of crime. The ecliptic had inclined
itself beyond recovery till life was as thin as the elm trees. Of
course he was in the wrong. The thinness was in himself, not in
Boston: but this is a story of education, and Adams was struggling
to shape himself to his time. Boston was trying to do the same
thing. Everywhere, except in Washington, Americans were toiling for
the same object. Every one complained of surroundings, except where,
as at Washington, there were no surroundings to complain of. Boston
kept its head better than its neighbors did, and very little time
was needed to prove it, even to Adams’s confusion.
Before he got back to Quincy, the summer was already half over, and
in another six weeks the effects of President Grant’s character showed
themselves. They were startling- astounding- terrifying. The mystery
that shrouded the famous, classical attempt of Jay Gould to corner
gold in September, 1869, has never been cleared up- at least so far as
to make it intelligible to Adams. Gould was led, by the change at
Washington, into the belief that he could safely corner gold without
interference from the Government. He took a number of precautions,
which he admitted; and he spent a large sum of money, as he also
testified, to obtain assurances which were not sufficient to have
satisfied so astute a gambler; yet he made the venture. Any criminal
lawyer must have begun investigation by insisting, rigorously, that no
such man, in such a position, could be permitted to plead that he
had taken, and pursued, such a course, without assurances which did
satisfy him. The plea was professionally inadmissible.
{CH_XVIII ^paragraph 5}
This meant that any criminal lawyer would have been bound to
start an investigation by insisting that Gould had assurances from the
White House or the Treasury, since none other could have satisfied
him. To young men wasting their summer at Quincy for want of some
one to hire their services at three dollars a day, such a dramatic
scandal was Heaven sent. Charles and Henry Adams jumped at it like
salmon at a fly, with as much voracity as Jay Gould, or his ame damnee
Jim Fisk, had ever shown for Erie; and with as little fear of
consequences. They risked something; no one could say what; but the
people about the Erie office were not regarded as lambs.
The unravelling a skein so tangled as that of the Erie Railway
was a task that might have given months of labor to the most efficient
District Attorney, with all his official tools to work with. Charles
took the railway history; Henry took the so-called Gold Conspiracy;
and they went to New York to work it up. The surface was in full view.
They had no trouble in Wall Street, and they paid their respects in
person to the famous Jim Fisk in his Opera-House Palace; but the New
York side of the story helped Henry little. He needed to penetrate the
political mystery, and for this purpose he had to wait for Congress to
meet. At first he feared that Congress would suppress the scandal, but
the Congressional Investigation was ordered and took place. He soon
knew all that was to be known; the material for his essay was
furnished by the Government.
Material furnished by a government seldom satisfies critics or
historians, for it lies always under suspicion. Here was a mystery,
and as usual, the chief mystery was the means of making sure that
any mystery existed. All Adams’s great friends- Fish, Cox, Hoar,
Evarts, Sumner, and their surroundings- were precisely the persons
most mystified. They knew less than Adams did; they sought
information, and frankly admitted that their relations with the
White House and the Treasury were not confidential. No one volunteered
advice. No one offered suggestion. One got no light, even from the
press, although press agents expressed in private the most damning
convictions with their usual cynical frankness. The Congressional
Committee took a quantity of evidence which it dared not probe, and
refused to analyze. Although the fault lay somewhere on the
Administration, and could lie nowhere else, the trail always faded and
died out at the point where any member of the Administration became
visible. Every one dreaded to press inquiry. Adams himself feared
finding out too much. He found out too much already, when he saw in
evidence that Jay Gould had actually succeeded in stretching his net
over Grant’s closest surroundings, and that Boutwell’s incompetence
was the bottom of Gould’s calculation. With the conventional air of
assumed confidence, every one in public assured every one else that
the President himself was the savior of the situation, and in
private assured each other that if the President had not been caught
this time, he was sure to be trapped the next, for the ways of Wall
Street were dark and double. All this was wildly exciting to Adams.
That Grant should have fallen, within six months, into such a
morass- or should have let Boutwell drop him into it- rendered the
outlook for the next four years- probably eight- possibly twelve-
mysterious, or frankly opaque, to a young man who had hitched his
wagon, as Emerson told him, to the star of reform. The country might
outlive it, but not he. The worst scandals of the eighteenth century
were relatively harmless by the side of this, which smirched
executive, judiciary, banks, corporate systems, professions, and
people, all the great active forces of society, in one dirty
cesspool of vulgar corruption. Only six months before, this innocent
young man, fresh from the cynicism of European diplomacy, had expected
to enter an honorable career in the press as the champion and
confidant of a new Washington, and already he foresaw a life of wasted
energy, sweeping the stables of American society clean of the
endless corruption which his second Washington was quite certain to
By vigorously shutting one’s eyes, as though one were an
Assistant Secretary, a writer for the press might ignore the Erie
scandal, and still help his friends or allies in the Government who
were doing their best to give it an air of decency; but a few weeks
showed that the Erie scandal was a mere incident, a rather vulgar Wall
Street trap, into which, according to one’s point of view, Grant had
been drawn by Jay Gould, or Jay Gould had been misled by Grant. One
could hardly doubt that both of them were astonished and disgusted
by the result; but neither Jay Gould nor any other astute American
mind- still less the complex Jew- could ever have accustomed itself to
the incredible and inexplicable lapses of Grant’s intelligence; and
perhaps, on the whole, Gould was the less mischievous victim, if
victims they both were. The same laxity that led Gould into a trap
which might easily have become the penitentiary, led the United States
Senate, the Executive departments and the Judiciary into confusion,
cross-purposes, and ill-temper that would have been scandalous in a
boarding-school of girls. For satirists or comedians, the study was
rich and endless, and they exploited its corners with happy results,
but a young man fresh from the rustic simplicity of London noticed
with horror that the grossest satires on the American Senator and
politician never failed to excite the laughter and applause of every
audience. Rich and poor joined in throwing contempt on their own
representatives. Society laughed a vacant and meaningless derision
over its own failure. Nothing remained for a young man without
position or power except to laugh too.
Yet the spectacle was no laughing matter to him, whatever it
might be to the public. Society is immoral and immortal; it can afford
to commit any kind of folly, and indulge in any sort of vice; it
cannot be killed, and the fragments that survive can always laugh at
the dead; but a young man has only one chance, and brief time to seize
it. Any one in power above him can extinguish the chance. He is
horribly at the mercy of fools and cowards. One dull administration
can rapidly drive out every active subordinate. At Washington, in
1869-70, every intelligent man about the Government prepared to go.
The people would have liked to go too, for they stood helpless
before the chaos; some laughed and some raved; all were disgusted; but
they had to content themselves by turning their backs and going to
work harder than ever on their railroads and foundries. They were
strong enough to carry even their politics. Only the helpless remained
stranded in Washington.
{CH_XVIII ^paragraph 10}
The shrewdest statesman of all was Mr. Boutwell, who showed how
he understood the situation by turning out of the Treasury every one
who could interfere with his repose, and then locking himself up in
it, alone. What he did there, no one knew. His colleagues asked him in
vain. Not a word could they get from him, either in the Cabinet or out
of it, of suggestion or information on matters even of vital interest.
The Treasury as an active influence ceased to exist. Mr. Boutwell
waited with confidence for society to drag his department out of the
mire, as it was sure to do if he waited long enough.
Warned by his friends in the Cabinet as well as in the Treasury
that Mr. Boutwell meant to invite no support, and cared to receive
none, Adams had only the State and Interior Departments left to serve.
He wanted no better than to serve them. Opposition was his horror;
pure waste of energy; a union with Northern Democrats and Southern
rebels who never had much in common with any Adams, and had never
shown any warm interest about them except to drive them from public
life. If Mr. Boutwell turned him out of the Treasury with the
indifference or contempt that made even a beetle helpless, Mr. Fish
opened the State Department freely, and seemed to talk with as much
openness as any newspaper-man could ask. At all events, Adams could
cling to this last plank of salvation, and make himself perhaps the
recognized champion of Mr. Fish in the New York press. He never once
thought of his disaster between Seward and Sumner in 1861. Such an
accident could not occur again. Fish and Sumner were inseparable,
and their policy was sure to be safe enough for support. No mosquito
could be so unlucky as to be caught a second time between a
Secretary and a Senator who were both his friends.
This dream of security lasted hardly longer than that of 1861.
Adams saw Sumner take possession of the Department, and he approved;
he saw Sumner seize the British mission for Motley, and he was
delighted; but when he renewed his relations with Sumner in the winter
of 1869-70, he began slowly to grasp the idea that Sumner had a
foreign policy of his own which he proposed also to force on the
Department. This was not all. Secretary Fish seemed to have
vanished. Besides the Department of State over which he nominally
presided in the Infant Asylum on Fourteenth Street, there had risen
a Department of Foreign Relations over which Senator Sumner ruled with
a high hand at the Capitol; and, finally, one clearly made out a third
Foreign Office in the War Department, with President Grant himself for
chief, pressing a policy of extension in the West Indies which no
Northeastern man ever approved. For his life, Adams could not learn
where to place himself among all these forces. Officially he would
have followed the responsible Secretary of State, but he could not
find the Secretary. Fish seemed to be friendly towards Sumner, and
docile towards Grant, but he asserted as yet no policy of his own.
As for Grant’s policy, Adams never had a chance to know fully what
it was, but, as far as he did know, he was ready to give it ardent
support. The difficulty came only when he heard Sumner’s views, which,
as he had reason to know, were always commands, to be disregarded only
by traitors.
Little by little, Sumner unfolded his foreign policy, and Adams
gasped with fresh astonishment at every new article of the creed. To
his profound regret he heard Sumner begin by imposing his veto on
all extension within the tropics; which cost the island of St.
Thomas to the United States, besides the Bay of Samana as an
alternative, and ruined Grant’s policy. Then he listened with
incredulous stupor while Sumner unfolded his plan for concentrating
and pressing every possible American claim against England, with a
view of compelling the cession of Canada to the United States.
Adams did not then know- in fact, he never knew, or could find
any one to tell him- what was going on behind the doors of the White
House. He doubted whether Mr. Fish or Bancroft Davis knew much more
than he. The game of cross-purposes was as impenetrable in Foreign
Affairs as in the Gold Conspiracy. President Grant let every one go
on, but whom he supported, Adams could not be expected to divine.
One point alone seemed clear to a man- no longer so very young- who
had lately come from a seven years’ residence in London. He thought he
knew as much as any one in Washington about England, and he listened
with the more perplexity to Mr. Sumner’s talk, because it opened the
gravest doubts of Sumner’s sanity. If war was his object, and Canada
were worth it, Sumner’s scheme showed genius, and Adams was ready to
treat it seriously; but if he thought he could obtain Canada from
England as a voluntary set-off to the Alabama Claims, he drivelled. On
the point of fact, Adams was as peremptory as Sumner on the point of
policy, but he could only wonder whether Mr. Fish would dare say it.
When at last Mr. Fish did say it, a year later, Sumner publicly cut
his acquaintance.
{CH_XVIII ^paragraph 15}
Adams was the more puzzled because he could not believe Sumner so
mad as to quarrel both with Fish and with Grant. A quarrel with Seward
and Andrew Johnson was bad enough, and had profited no one; but a
quarrel with General Grant was lunacy. Grant might be whatever one
liked, as far as morals or temper or intellect were concerned, but
he was not a man whom a lightweight cared to challenge for a fight;
and Sumner, whether he knew it or not, was a very light weight in
the Republican Party, if separated from his Committee of Foreign
Relations. As a party manager he had not the weight of half-a-dozen
men whose very names were unknown to him.
Between these great forces, where was the Administration and how
was one to support it? One must first find it, and even then it was
not easily caught. Grant’s simplicity was more disconcerting than
the complexity of a Talleyrand. Mr. Fish afterwards told Adams, with
the rather grim humor he sometimes indulged in, that Grant took a
dislike to Motley because he parted his hair in the middle. Adams
repeated the story to Godkin, who made much play with it in the
Nation, till it was denied. Adams saw no reason why it should be
denied. Grant had as good a right to dislike the hair as the head,
if the hair seemed to him a part of it. Very shrewd men have formed
very sound judgments on less material than hair- on clothes, for
example, according to Mr. Carlyle, or on a pen, according to
Cardinal de Retz- and nine men in ten could hardly give as good a
reason as hair for their likes or dislikes. In truth, Grant disliked
Motley at sight, because they had nothing in common; and for the
same reason he disliked Sumner. For the same reason he would be sure
to dislike Adams if Adams gave him a chance. Even Fish could not be
quite sure of Grant, except for the powerful effect which wealth
had, or appeared to have, on Grant’s imagination.
The quarrel that lowered over the State Department did not break in
storm till July, 1870, after Adams had vanished, but another
quarrel, almost as fatal to Adams as that between Fish and Sumner,
worried him even more. Of all members of the Cabinet, the one whom
he had most personal interest in cultivating was Attorney-General
Hoar. The Legal Tender decision, which had been the first
stumbling-block to Adams at Washington, grew in interest till it
threatened to become something more serious than a block; it fell on
one’s head like a plaster ceiling, and could not be escaped. The
impending battle between Fish and Sumner was nothing like so serious
as the outbreak between Hoar and Chief Justice Chase. Adams had come
to Washington hoping to support the Executive in a policy of
breaking down the Senate, but he never dreamed that he would be
required to help in breaking down the Supreme Court. Although, step by
step, he had been driven, like the rest of the world, to admit that
American society had outgrown most of its institutions, he still clung
to the Supreme Court, much as a churchman clings to his bishops,
because they are his only symbol of unity; his last rag of Right.
Between the Executive and the legistature, citizens could have no
Rights; they were at the mercy of Power. They had created the Court to
protect them from unlimited Power, and it was little enough protection
at best. Adams wanted to save the independence of the Court at least
for his lifetime, and could not conceive that the Executive should
wish to overthrow it.
Frank Walker shared this feeling, and, by way of helping the Court,
he had promised Adams for the North American Review an article on
the history of the Legal Tender Act, founded on a volume just then
published Spaulding, the putative father of the legal-tender clause in
1861. Secretary Jacob D. Cox, who alone sympathized with reform, saved
from Boutwell’s decree of banishment such reformers as he could find
place for, and he saved Walker for a time by giving him the Census
of 1870. Walker was obliged to abandon his article for the North
American in order to devote himself to the Census. He gave Adams his
notes, and Adams completed the article.
He had not toiled in vain over the Bank of England Restriction.
He knew enough about Legal Tender to leave it alone. If the banks
and bankers wanted flat money, flat money was good enough for a
newspaper-man; and if they changed about and wanted “intrinsic” value,
gold and silver came equally welcome to a writer who was paid half the
wages of an ordinary mechanic. He had no notion of attacking or
defending Legal Tender; his object was to defend the Chief Justice and
the Court. Walker argued that, whatever might afterwards have been the
necessity for legal tender, there was no necessity for it at the
time the Act was passed. With the help of the Chief Justice’s
recollections, Adams completed the article, which appeared in the
April number of the North American. Its ferocity was Walker’s, for
Adams never cared to abandon the knife for the hatchet, but Walker
reeked of the army and the Springfield Republican, and his energy
ran away with Adams’s restraint. The unfortunate Spaulding
complained loudly of this treatment, not without justice, but the
article itself had serious historical value, for Walker demolished
every shred of Spaulding’s contention that legal tender was
necessary at the time; and the Chief Justice told his part of the
story with conviction. The Chief Justice seemed to be Pleased. The
Attorney General, pleased or not, made no sign. The article had enough
historical interest to induce Adams to reprint it in a volume of
Essays twenty years afterwards; but its historical value was not its
point in education. The point was that, in spite of the best
intentions, the plainest self-interest, and the strongest wish to
escape further trouble, the article threw Adams into opposition. Judge
Hoar, like Boutwell, was implacable.
{CH_XVIII ^paragraph 20}
Hoar went on to demolish the Chief Justice; while Henry Adams
went on, drifting further and further from the Administration. He
did this in common with all the world, including Hoar himself.
Scarcely a newspaper in the country kept discipline. The New York
Tribune was one of the most criminal. Dissolution of ties in every
direction marked the dissolution of temper, and the Senate Chamber
became again a scene of irritated egotism that passed ridicule.
Senators quarrelled with each other, and no one objected, but they
picked quarrels also with the Executive and threw every Department
into confusion. Among others they quarrelled with Hoar, and drove
him from office.
That Sumner and Hoar, the two New Englanders in great position
who happened to be the two persons most necessary for his success at
Washington, should be the first victims of Grant’s lax rule, must have
had some meaning for Adams’s education, if Adams could only have
understood what it was. He studied, but failed. Sympathy with him
was not their weakness. Directly, in the form of help, he knew he
could hope as little from them as from Boutwell. So far from
inviting attachment they, like other New Englanders, blushed to own
a friend. Not one of the whole delegation would ever, of his own
accord, try to help Adams or any other young man who did not beg for
it, although they would always accept whatever services they had not
to pay for. The lesson of education was not there. The selfishness
of politics was the earliest of all political education, and Adams had
nothing to learn from its study; but the situation struck him as
curious- so curious that he devoted years to reflecting upon it. His
four most powerful friends had matched themselves, two and two, and
were fighting in pairs to a finish; Sumner-Fish; Chase-Hoar; with
foreign affairs and the judiciary as prizes! What value had the
fight in education?
Adams was puzzled, and was not the only puzzled bystander. The
stage-type of statesman was amusing, whether as Roscoe Conkling or
Colonel Mulberry Sellers, but what was his value? The statesmen of the
old type, whether Sumners or Conklings or Hoars or Lamars, were
personally as honest as human nature could produce. They trod with
lofty contempt on other people’s jobs, especially when there was
good in them. Yet the public thought that Sumner and Conkling cost the
country a hundred times more than all the jobs they ever trod on; just
as Lamar and the old Southern statesmen, who were also honest in
money-matters, cost the country a civil war. This painful moral
doubt worried Adams less than it worried his friends and the public,
but it affected the whole field of politics for twenty years. The
newspapers discussed little else than the alleged moral laxity of
Grant, Garfield, and Blaine. If the press were taken seriously,
politics turned on jobs, and some of Adams’s best friends, like
Godkin, ruined their influence by their insistence on points of
morals. Society hesitated, wavered, oscillated between harshness and
laxity, pitilessly sacrificing the weak, and deferentially following
the strong. In spite of all such criticism, the public nominated
Grant, Garfield, and Blaine for the Presidency, and voted for them
afterwards, not seeming to care for the question; until young men were
forced to see that either some new standard must be created, or none
could be upheld. The moral law had expired- like the Constitution.
Grant’s administration outraged every rule of ordinary decency, but
scores of promising men, whom the country could not well spare, were
ruined in saying so. The world cared little for decency. What it
wanted, it did not know; probably a system that would work, and men
who could work it; but it found neither. Adams had tried his own
little hands on it, and had failed. His friends had been driven out of
Washington or had taken to fisticuffs. He himself sat down and
stared helplessly into the future.
The result was a review of the Session for the July North
American into which he crammed and condensed everything he thought
he had observed and all he had been told. He thought it good history
then, and he thought it better twenty years afterwards; he thought
it even good enough to reprint. As it happened, in the process of
his devious education, this “Session” of 1869-70 proved to be his last
study in current politics, and his last dying testament as a humble
member of the press. As such, he stood by it. He could have said no
more, had he gone on reviewing every session in the rest of the
century. The political dilemma was as clear in 1870 as it was likely
to be in 1970. The system of 1789 had broken down, and with it the
eighteenth-century fabric of a priori, or moral, principles.
Politicians had tacitly given it up. Grant’s administration marked the
avowal. Nine-tenths of men’s political energies must henceforth be
wasted on expedients to piece out- to patch- or, in vulgar language,
to tinker- the political machine as often as it broke down. Such a
system, or want of system, might last centuries, if tempered by an
occasional revolution or civil war; but as a machine, it was, or
soon would be, the poorest in the world- the clumsiest- the most
{CH_XVIII ^paragraph 25}
Here again was an education, but what it was worth he could not
guess. Indeed, when he raised his eyes to the loftiest and most
triumphant results of politics- to Mr. Boutwell, Mr. Conkling or
even Mr. Sumner- he could not honestly say that such an education,
even when it carried one up to these unattainable heights, was worth
anything. There were men, as yet standing on lower levels- clever
and amusing men like Garfield and Blaine- who took no little
pleasure in making fun of the senatorial demi-gods, and who used
language about Grant himself which the North American Review would not
have admitted. One asked doubtfully what was likely to become of these
men in their turn. What kind of political ambition was to result
from this destructive political education?
Yet the sum of political life was, or should have been, the
attainment of a working political system. Society needed to reach
it. If moral standards broke down, and machinery stopped working,
new morals and machinery of some sort had to be invented. An
eternity of Grants, or even of Garfields or of Conklings or of Jay
Goulds, refused to be conceived as possible. Practical Americans
laughed, and went their way. Society paid them to be practical.
Whenever society cared to pay Adams, he too would be practical, take
his pay, and hold his tongue; but meanwhile he was driven to associate
with Democratic Congressmen and educate them. He served David Wells as
an active assistant professor of revenue reform, and turned his
rooms into a college. The Administration drove him, and thousands of
other young men, into active enmity, not only to Grant, but to the
system or want of system, which took possession of the President.
Every hope or thought which had brought Adams to Washington proved
to be absurd. No one wanted him; no one wanted any of his friends in
reform; the blackmailer alone was the normal product of politics as of
All this was excessively amusing. Adams never had been so busy,
so interested, so much in the thick of the crowd. He knew
Congressmen by scores and newspaper-men by the dozen. He wrote for his
various organs all sorts of attacks and defences. He enjoyed the
life enormously, and found himself as happy as Sam Ward or Sunset Cox;
much happier than his friends Fish or J. D. Cox, or Chief Justice
Chase or Attorney-General Hoar or Charles Sumner. When spring came, he
took to the woods, which were best of all, for after the first of
April, what Maurice de Guerin called “the vast maternity” of nature
showed charms more voluptuous than the vast paternity of the United
States Senate. Senators were less ornamental than the dogwood or
even the judas-tree. They were, as a rule, less good company. Adams
astonished himself by remarking what a purified charm was lent to
the Capitol by the greatest possible distance, as one caught
glimpses of the dome over miles of forest foliage. At such moments
he pondered on the distant beauty of St. Peter’s and the steps of
Ara Coeli.
Yet he shortened his spring, for he needed to get back to London
for the season. He had finished his New York “Gold Conspiracy,”
which he meant for his friend Henry Reeve and the Edinburgh Review. It
was the best piece of work he had done, but this was not his reason
for publishing it in England. The Erie scandal had provoked a sort
of revolt among respectable New Yorkers, as well as among some who
were not so respectable; and the attack on Erie was beginning to
promise success. London was a sensitive spot for the Erie
management, and it was thought well to strike them there, where they
were socially and financially exposed. The tactics suited him in
another way, for any expression about America in an English review
attracted ten times the attention in America that the same article
would attract in the North American. Habitually the American dailies
reprinted such articles in full. Adams wanted to escape the terrors of
copyright; his highest ambition was to be pirated and advertised
free of charge, since, in any case, his pay was nothing. Under the
excitement of chase, he was becoming a pirate himself, and liked it.