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the commissioners to demand his recognition as President of a separate nationality. (0)

“Say to the gentlemen,” Mr. Lincoln telegraphed, “I will meet them personally at Fortress Monroe."

It was midwinter—the mercury nearly down to zero. Mr. Stephens, , small of stature, in feeble health, wrapped himself in three overcoats

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1865.

and a woollen muffler. Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward were in the cabin

of the steamer River Queen, awaiting the arrival of the comFebis, missioners. They saw, at the farther end of the saloon, Mr.

Stephens laying aside his overcoats one by one. When the disrobing was finished they beheld a shrivelled, boyish-looking little man.

Seward,” said Mr. Lincoln, “ that is the largest shucking for so small a nubbin that I ever saw.”

There were friendly greetings, hearty hand-shakings, pleasant talk of old times. Mr. Stephens asked if there was no way of restoring happiness and harmony.

“I know of but one way,” Mr. Lincoln replied. “Those who are resisting the laws of the Union must cease their resistance."

“We have been induced to believe," said Mr. Stephens, “that both parties might cease present strife and take up a Continental question, which would give time for their anger to cool.”

“I suppose,” the President replied, “ you refer to something Mr. Blair has said. Now it is proper for me to state that Mr. Blair had no authority from me to make any statement. When he applied to me for a pass to go to Richmond with certain ideas he wished to make known to me, I told him flatly I did not want to hear them. When he returned and brought me Mr. Davis's letter, I gave him the one to which you allude in your application to pass the lines. I was always willing to hear propositions for peace, on the conditions of this letter and on no others. The restoration of the Union is a sine qua non with me, and hence my instructions that no conference was to be beld except on that basis.” (R)

Mr. Stephens possibly thought Mr. Lincoln could be influenced by argument. He urged an armistice, and a joint expedition of Union and Confederate troops to drive the French out of Mexico. This would establish the right of self-government to all countries in the western hemisphere against any interference from European nations. The Confederate Vice-president underrated the logical powers of Mr. Lincoln if he thought to hoodwink him by such sophistry. Consenting to a joint expedition would be an acknowledgment of the Confederacy as a separate nation.

“ I cannot,” Mr. Lincoln replied, “entertain a proposition for an armistice on any terms while the vital question of reunion is undisposed of. That is the first question with me. I can enter into no treaty, convention, or stipulation or agreement with the Confederate States, jointly or separately, upon any other subject but upon the basis first

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settled—that the Union is to be restored. Any such agreement or stipulation would be a quasi recognition of the States then in arms against the National Government as a separate power. That I never will do. ... Even if the Confederate States should entertain the proposition to return to the Union, I could not enter into any agreement in regard to reconstruction, or upon any other matters of that sort, while there were parties in arms against the Government.” ( ')

“But,” interposed Mr. Hunter, “there are instances where a chief executive has entered into agreements even when there were parties in arms against acknowledged authority. Charles I., of England, did it."

“I do not profess to be posted in history,” Mr. Lincoln replied. “On such matters I will turn you over to Mr. Seward. All that I distinctly recollect about Charles I. is that he lost his head.” ()

The Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery was read.

“The slaves," said Mr. Hunter, “have always been accustomed to an overseer. If you suddenly free them on the basis of the Emancipa. tion Proclamation, you will not only precipitate them, but the entire Southern people, into irredeemable ruin.”

“Mr. Hunter," the President replied, “you ought to know more about this matter than I, for you have always lived under the slave system. I can only say that your statement brings to mind Farmer Case, out in Ilinois, who undertook to raise a lot of hogs. It was no small job to feed them. He had a large field of potatoes, and he concluded to turn the hogs loose and let them have full swing It would save digging the potatoes. He was looking at the critters one day when a neighbor came along. “Case,' said he, ' your hogs are doing well just now, but what will become of them when the ground freezes?' 'Well,' said Case, “it may come rather hard on their snouts, but it will be root, hog, or die.'” (°)

"Mr. President," said Mr. Seward, " I think we may as well inform the gentlemen that the Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery was acted on by Congress yesterday, and it doubtless will be ratified by the requisite number of States."

“That is true, gentlemen,” said Mr. Lincoln. “I suggest that the States which have seceded return and vote for its ratification. It is desirable to have the consent of the people as soon as possible. I do not doubt they will be ready to make liberal compensation for your slaves

- possibly $100,000,000. You would be surprised, gentlemen, were I to give you the names of those who favor it."

Mr. Lincoln spoke of the position of individuals who had taken part in the Rebellion.

“ According to your view of the case,” said Mr. Stephens, " we are all guilty of treason and liable to be hanged.”

“Yes, that is so," Mr. Lincoln replied.

“Well, I have no fear of being executed so long as you are President,” said Mr. Stephens.

Hampered by the conditions imposed by Jefferson Davis, the commissioners could not make any definite proposition for ending the war. Mr. Lincoln stated frankly and decidedly that there was one course they could pursue which would end the struggle at once-submission to Federal authority.

“I'll tell you,” he said to Mr. Stephens, “ what I would do, were I a citizen of Georgia, as you are. I would go home and get the Governor to call the Legislature together, recall the troops, elect Senators and Representatives to Congress, and ratify the Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery." (")

Feb. 5.

Both the meeting and parting were friendly. On the trip up the Potomac the President was looking into the future. Ile knew the time was near when the people must deal with the question of reconstruction. If there was to be a true restoration of the Union, there must be conciliation on the part of the North towards the defeated South. Would not an offer of compensation for the slaves freed go far towards bringing about harmony? Upon his arrival at Washington the matter

was brought to the attention of the Cabinet. The President pro

posed to submit a message to Congress recommending an appropriation of $100,000,000, and that all political offences be condoned.

The Cabinet did not take kindly to the proposition. The President was surprised.

“ How long will the war last ?” he asked. No one answered. It was a painful silence. The President continued: “Let us suppose it will last 100 days. We are spending $3,000,000 a day, which will amount to all the money, besides all the lives. But I see you are all opposed to me, and I will not send the message.” It was laid aside and never again taken up.

In his desire to save life, bis earnestness to secure peace, in the greatness of his charity, Mr. Lincoln had gone to the extreme verge of magnanimity.

“ The earnest desire of the President,” wrote Mr. Welles in his diary, “to conciliate and effect peace was manifest, but there may be such an overdoing as to cause distrust or adverse feeling. The rebels would misconstrue it if the offer were made." (")

The Confederate commissioners had not manifested any desire to return to the Union. Jefferson Davis had stipulated for his recognition as chief executive of an independent nation. There was no evidence that the slave-holding States could be conciliated by the proposed offer. A noble desire had taken possession of the great-hearted President. The longing for peace, the restoration of the Union, and the saving of life for the moment outweighed his judgment. Had he waited a few hours we may be sure the matter never would have been laid before the Cabinet.

The Confederate commissioners returned to Richmond, chagrined over their failure. While they were making their way up the James

and through the Union lines under their safe conduct, the ConFeb: 4, federate Congress was considering the question of adopting a

new flag for the Confederacy, as if it was to wave forever as an emblem of sovereignty, oblivious as was Belshazzar of approaching doom. The commissioners reported to Jefferson Davis that the Con

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