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ing. Mr. Lincoln, on reading Major Eckert's report on the morning of February 2, was about to recall Secretary Seward by telegraph, when he was shown a confidential despatch from General Grant to the Secretary of War, stating his belief that the intention of the commissioners was good, and their desire for peace sincere, and regretting that Mr. Lincoln could not have an interview with them. This communication served to change his purpose. Resolving not to neglect the indications of sincerity here described, he telegraphed at once, "Say to the gentlemen I will meet them personally at Fortress Monroe as soon as I can get there," and joined Secretary Seward that same night.

On the morning of February 3, 1865, the rebel commissioners were conducted on board the River Queen, lying at anchor near Fort Monroe, where President Lincoln and Secretary Seward awaited them. It was agreed beforehand that no writing or memorandum should be made at the time, so the record of the interview remains only in the separate accounts which the rebel commissioners wrote out afterward from memory, neither Mr. Seward nor President Lincoln ever having made any report in detail. In a careful analysis of these reports, the first striking feature is the difference of intention between the parties. It is apparent that Mr. Lincoln went honestly and frankly to offer them the best terms he could to secure peace and reunion, but to abate no jot of official duty or personal dignity; while the main thought of the commissioners was to evade the express condition on which they had been admitted to conference, to seek to postpone the vital issue, and to propose an armistice by debating a mere juggling expedient against which they had in a private agreement with one another already committed themselves.


At the first hint of Blair's Mexican project, however, Mr. Lincoln firmly disclaimed any responsibility for the suggestion, or any intention of adopting it, and during the four hours' talk led the conversation continually back to the original object of the conference. But though he patiently answered the many questions addressed him by the commissioners, as to what would probably be done on various important subjects that must arise at once if the Confederate States consented, carefully discriminating in his answers between what he was authorized under the Constitution to do as Executive, and what would devolve upon coördinate branches of the government, the interview came to nothing. The commissioners returned to Richmond in great disappointment, and communicated the failure of their efforts to Jefferson Davis, whose chagrin was equal to their own. They had all caught eagerly at the hope that this negotiation would somehow extricate them from the dilemmas and dangers of their situation. Davis took the only course open to him after refusing the honorable peace Mr. Lincoln had tendered. He transmitted the commissioners' report to the rebel Congress, with a brief and dry message stating that the enemy refused any terms except those the conqueror might grant; and then arranged as vigorous an effort as circumstances permitted once more to "fire the Southern heart." A public meeting was called, where the speeches, judging from the meager reports printed, were as denunciatory and bellicose as the bitterest Confederate could desire. Davis particularly is represented to have excelled himself in defiant heroics. "Sooner than we should ever be united again," he said, “he would be willing to yield up everything he had on earth—if it were possible, he would sacrifice a thousand lives"; and he further announced his confidence

that they would yet "compel the Yankees, in less than twelve months, to petition us for peace on our own terms."

This extravagant rhetoric would seem merely grotesque, were it not embittered by the reflection that it was the signal which carried many additional thousands of brave soldiers to death, in continuing a palpably hopeless military struggle.

Blair-Chase Chief Justice-Speed Succeeds Bates-McCulloch Succeeds Fessenden-Resignation of Mr. Usher-Lincoln's Offer of $400,000,000-The_Second Inaugural-Lincoln's Literary Rank-His Last Speech

The principal crecess of the administration to their

HE principal concession in the Baltimore platform

opponents, the radicals, was the resolution which called for harmony in the cabinet. The President at first took no notice, either publicly or privately, of this resolution, which was in effect a recommendation that he dismiss those members of his council who were stigmatized as conservatives; and the first cabinet change which actually took place after the adjournment of the convention filled the radical body of his supporters with dismay, since they had looked upon Mr. Chase as their special representative in the government. The publication of the Wade-Davis manifesto still further increased their restlessness, and brought upon Mr. Lincoln a powerful pressure from every quarter to satisfy radical demands by dismissing Montgomery Blair, his Postmaster-General. Mr. Blair had been one of the founders of the Republican party, and in the very forefront of opposition to slavery extension, but had gradually attracted to himself the hostility of all the radical Republicans in the country. The immediate cause of this estrangement was the bitter quarrel that developed between his family and General Frémont in Missouri: a quarrel in which the Blairs were undoubtedly right in the beginning, but which broadened

and extended until it landed them finally in the Democratic party.

The President considered the dispute one of form rather than substance, and having a deep regard, not only for the Postmaster-General, but for his brother, General Frank Blair, and for his distinguished father, was most reluctant to take action against him. Even in the bosom of the government, however, a strong hostility to Mr. Blair manifested itself. As long as Chase remained in the cabinet there was smoldering hostility between them, and his attitude toward Seward and Stanton was one of increasing enmity. General Halleck, incensed at some caustic remarks Blair was reported to have made about the defenders of the capital after Early's raid, during which the family estate near Washington had suffered, sent an angry note to the War Department, wishing to know if such "wholesale denouncement" had the President's sanction; adding that either the names of the officers accused should be stricken from the rolls, or the "slanderer dismissed from the cabinet." Mr. Stanton sent the letter to the President without comment. This was too much; and the Secretary received an answer on the very same day, written in Mr. Lincoln's most masterful manner :

"Whether the remarks were really made I do not know, nor do I suppose such knowledge is necessary to a correct response. If they were made, I do not approve them; and yet, under the circumstances, I would not dismiss a member of the cabinet therefor. I do not consider what may have been hastily said in a moment of vexation at so severe a loss is sufficient ground for so grave a step. I propose continuing to be myself the judge as to when a member of the cabinet shall be dismissed."

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