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Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

. (page 18 of 41)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 41)
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hear that you have resolved to act in the premises, and to act so
promptly that a good influence may even yet be exerted on- the North
Carolina election next month."

I remain yours, Horace Greeley.

Hon. A. Lincoln, Washington.

On the 12th, the day before the foregoing letter was sent,
Mr. George N. Sanders had written to Mr. Greeley as fol-
lows : —

Clifton House, Niagara Falls.

Canada West, July 12, 1864.

Dear Sir: — I am authorized to say that Honorable Clement C.
Clay, of Alabama, Professor James P. Holcombe, of Virginia, and



530 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

George N. Sanders, of Dixie, are ready and willing to go at once to
Washington, upon complete and unqualified protection being given
either by the President or Secretary of War. Let the permission in-
clude the three names and one other. Very respectfully,

George N. Sanders.
To Hon. Horace Greeley.

This letter of Mr. Sanders does not seem to have been
communicated to the President, but on the receipt of Mr.
Greeley's letter of the 13th, he immediately answered it by
the following telegram : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, July 15, 1864.

Hon. Horace Greeley, New York: — I suppose you received my let-
ter of the 9th. I have just received yours of the 13th, and am disap-
pointed by -it. I was not expecting you to send me a letter, but to
bring me a man, or men. Mr. Hay goes to you with my answer to
yours of the 13th. A. Lincoln.

The answer which Major Hay carried was as follows : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, July 15, 1864.
Hon. Horace Greeley.

My Dear Sir: — Yours of the 13th is just received, and I am dis-
appointed that you have not already reached here with those commis-
sioners. If they would consent to come, on being shown my letter
to you of the gth instant, show that and this to them, and if they
will come on the terms stated in the former, bring them. 1 not only
intend a sincere effort for peace, but I intend that you shall be a
personal witness that it is made. Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

When Major Hay arrived at New York, he delivered to
Mr. Greeley this letter from the President, and telegraphed
its result to the President as follows : —

United States Military Telegraph,
War Department, New York, 9 a. m., July 16, 1864.
His Excellency A. Lincoln,

President of the United States :

Arrived this morning at 6 a. m., and delivered your letter few min-i
utes after. Although he thinks some one less known would create
less excitement and be less embarrassed by public curiosity, still he
will start immediately if he can have an absolute safe-conduct for
four persons to be named by him. Your letter he does not think will
guard them from arrest, and with only those letters he would have
to explain the whole matter to any officer who might choose tc hinder
them. If this meets with your approbation, I can write the order ir
your name as A. A.-G., or you can send it by mail. Please answeij
me at Astor House. John Hay, A. A.-G.



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 53I

The President at once answered by telegraph as follows : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, July 16, 1864.
ohn Hay, Astor House, New York:

Yours received. Write the safe-conduct as you propose, without
/aiting for one by mail from me. If there is or is not anything in
he affair, I wish to know it without necessary delay. A. Lincoln.

Major Hay accordingly wrote the following safe-conduct,
rmed with which Mr. Greeley betook himself at once to
siagara Falls : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C.

I The President of the United States directs that the four persons
•hose names follow, to-wit:

Hon. Clement C. Clay,

Hon. Jacob Thompson,

Prof. James B. Holcombe,

George N. Sanders,
lall have safe conduct to the City of Washington in company with
le Hon. Horace Greeley, and shall be exempt from arrest or annoy-
ice of any kind from any officer of the United States during their
mrney to the said City of Washington.
By order of the President:

John Hay, Major and A. A.-G.

On his arrival, Mr. Greeley sent by the hands of Mr.
swett the following letter: —

Niagara Falls, N. Y., July 17, 1864.
Gentlemen: — I am informed that you are duly accredited from
ichmond as the bearers of propositions looking to the establish-
ent of peace; that you desire to visit Washington in the fulfillment
E your mission ; and that you' further desire that Mr. George N.
inders shall accompany you. If my information be thus far sub-
antially correct, I am authorized by the President of the United
tates to tender you his safe conduct on the journey proposed, and
accompany you at the earliest time that will be agreeable to you.
have the honor to be gentlemen, Yours,

Horace Greeley.

Messrs. Clement C. Clay. Jacob Thompson, James P. Holcombe,
Clifton House, C. W.

To this letter the following reply was returned : —

Clifton House. Niagara Falls, July 18, 1864.

Sir: — We have the honor to acknowledge your favor of the 17th
St., which would have been answered on yesterday, but for the
nsence of Mr. Clay. The safe-conduct of the President of tht
nited States has been tendered us, we regret to state, under some



532 THE LIFE, TUBLIC SERVICES, AND

misapprehension of facts. We have not been accredited to him from
Richmond, as the bearers of propositions looking to the establish-
ment of peace. We are, however, in the confidential employment of
our Government, and are entirely familiar with its wishes and opin-
ions on that subject; and we feel authorized to declare, that if the
circumstances disclosed in this correspondence were communicated
to Richmond, we would be at once invested with the authority to
which your letter refers, or other gentlemen, clothed with full pow-
ers, would be immediately sent to Washington with a view of hasten-
ing a consummation so much to be desired, and terminating at the
earliest possible moment the calamities of the war. We respectfully
solicit, through your intervention, a safe-conduct to Washington, and
thence by any route which may be designated through your lines to
Richmond. We would be gratified if Mr. George Sanders was em-
braced in this privilege. Permit us, in conclusion, to acknowledge
our obligations to you for the interest you have manifested in the
furtherance of our wishes, and to express the hope that, in any event,
you will afford us the opportunity of tendering them in person before
you leave the Falls.

We remain, very respectfully, &c,

C. C. Clay, Jr.
J. P. Holcombe.

P. S. — It is proper to state that Mr. Thompson is not here, and has
not been staying with us since our sojourn in Canada.

Mr. Greeley thereupon wrote as follows : —

International Hotel, Niagara Falls, N. Y., July 18, 1864.
Gentlemen : — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours
of this date by the hand of Mr. W. C. Jewett. The state of facts
therein presented being materially different from that which was
understood to exist by the President when he intrusted me with thef
safe-conduct required, it seems to me on every account advisable that
I should communicate with him by telegraph, and solicit fresh in-
structions, which I shall at once proceed to do.

I hope to be able to transmit the result this afternoon, and at all
events I shall do so at the earliest moment.

Yours truly, Horace Greeley. }

To Messrs. Clement C. Clay and James P. Holcombe, Clifton House,
C. W.

This letter was thus acknowledged : —

Clifton House, Niagara Falls, July 18, 1864.

To Hon. H. Greeley, Niagara Falls, N. Y. :

Sir: — We have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note
of this date by the hands of Colonel Jewett, and will await the further
answer which you propose to send to us.

We are, very respectfully, &c,
(Signed) C. C. Clay, Jr.

James P. Holcombe,



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 533

Mr. Greeley accordingly sent the following telegram at
once to the President at Washington : —

Independent Telegraph Line, Niagara Falls, July 18, 1864.
Hon. Abraham Lincoln, President:

I have communicated with the gentlemen in question, and do not
find them so empowered as I was previously assured. They say that
"we are, however, in the confidential employment of our Government,
and entirely familiar with its wishes and opinions on that subject,
and we feel authorized to declare that, if the circumstances disclosed
in this correspondence were communicated to Richmond, we would
at once be invested with the authority to which your letter refers, or
other gentlemen clothed with full power would immediately be sent
to Washington with a view of hastening a consummation so much to
be desired, and terminating at the earliest possible moment the
calamities of war. We respectfully solicit, through your intervention,
a safe-conduct to Washington, and thence by any route which may
be designated to Richmond." Such is the more material portion of
the gentlemen's letter. I will transmit the entire correspondence,
if desired. Awaiting your further instructions,

I remain yours, Horace Greeley.

The President, on receiving this telegram, immediately
dispatched Major Hay to Niagara with a further communi-
cation, and telegraphed to Mr. Greeley that he had done so,
whereupon the latter sent across the river the following let-
ter :—

International Hotel, Niagara Falls, New York, July 19, 1864.
Gentlemen : — At a late hour last evening (too late for communica-
tion with you) I received a dispatch informing me that further in-
structions left Washington last evening, which must reach me, if
there be no interruption, at noon to-morrow. Should you decide to
await their arrival, I feel confident that they will enable me to answer
definitely your note of yesterday morning. Regretting a delay which
I am sure you will regard as unavoidable on my part,

I remain, yours truly, Horace Greeley.

To Hon. Messrs. C. C. Clay, Jr., and J. P. Holcombe, Clifton House,
C. W.

He received the following acknowledgment: —

Clifton House, Niagara Falls, July 19, 1864.
Sir: — Colonel Jewett has just handed us your note of this date, in
which you state that further instructions from Washington will reach
you by noon to-morrow, if there be no interruption. One, or possi-
bly both of us, may be obliged to leave the Falls to-day, but will re-
turn in time to receive the communication which you promise to-
morrow. We remain, truly yours, &c.

James P. Holcombe.

C. C. Clay. Jr.
To the Hon. Horace Greeley, now at the International Hotel.



534 THE LIFEj PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

The further instructions from the President, sent by the
hands of Major Hay, were as follows : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, July 18, 1864.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN I

Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the in-
tegrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and
which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now
at war against the United States, will be received and considered by
the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met
by liberal terms on substantial and collateral points, and the bearer
or bearers thereof shall have safe conduct both ways.

(Signed) Abraham Lincoln.

Major Hay arrived at Niagara on the 20th of July, and
went with Mr. Greeley across to the Clifton House, where
he delivered to Professor Holcombe the above paper, in the
President's own handwriting. The interview was a brief one,'
and on separating, Mr. Greeley returned to New York, leav-
ing Major Hay to receive their answer, if there should be
one.

Their reply was, however, sent to Mr. Greeley by the
hands of Mr. Jewett. It was as follows: —

Niagara Falls, Clifton House, July 21.
To Hon. Horace Greeley:

Sir : — The paper handed to Mr. Holcombe on yesterday, in your
presence, by Major Hay, A. A.-G., as an answer to the application in
our note of the 18th inst, is couched in the following terms: —

Executive Mansion, Washington, July 18, 1864.
To whom it may concern:

Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the in- <
tegrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and
which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now 1
at war against the United States, will be received and considered by
the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by
liberal terms on other substantial and collateral points, and the bearer
or bearers thereof shall have safe-conduct both ways.

Abraham Lincoln.

The application to which we refer was elicited by your letter of the
17th inst., in which you inform Mr. Jacob Thompson and ourselves,
that you were authorized by the President of the United States to
tender us his safe-conduct on the hypothesis that we were "duly
accredited from Richmond, as bearers of propositions looking to the
establishment of peace," and desired a visit to Washington in the ful- 1
fillment of this mission. This assertion, to which we then gave, and
still do, entire credence, was accepted by us as the evidence of an
unexpected but most gratifying change in the policy of the Presi- ■



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 535

dent — a change which we felt authorized to hope might terminate
in the conclusion of a peace, mutually just, honorable, and advan-
tageous to the North and to the South, exacting no condition, but
that we should be "duly accredited from Richmond as bearers of
propositions looking to the establishment of peace," thus proffering
a basis for conference as comprehensive as we could desire. It
seemed to us that the President opened a door, which had previously
been closed against the Confederate States for a full interchange
of sentiments, free discussion of conflicting opinions, and untram-
melled effort to remove all causes of controversy by liberal negotia-
tions. We indeed could not claim the benefit of a safe-conduct which
had been extended ro us in a character we had no right to assume,
and had never affected to possess; but the uniform declaration of
our Executive and Congress, and their thrice repeated and as often
repulsed attempts to open negotiations, furnish a sufficient pledge
to assure us that this conciliatory manifestation on the part of the
President of the United States would be met by them in a temper of
equal magnanimity. We had therefore no hesitation in declaring that
if this correspondence was communicated to the President of the
Confederate States, he would promptly embrace the opportunity pre-
sented for seeking a peaceful solution of this unhappy strife. We feel
confident that you must share our profound regret that the spirit
which dictated the first step towards peace had not continued to
animate the counsels of your President.

Had the representatives of the two Governments met to consider
this question, the most momentous ever submitted to human states-
manship, in a temper of becoming moderation and equity, followed
as their deliberations would have been by the prayers and benedic-
tions of every patriot and Christian on the habitable globe, who is
there so bold as to pronounce that the frightful waste of individual
happiness and public prosperity, which is daily saddening the uni-
versal heart, might not have been terminated, or if the desolation and
carnage of war must still be endured through weary years of blood
and suffering, that there might not at least have been infused into
its conduct something more of the spirit which softens and partially
redeems its brutalities? Instead of the safe-conduct which we solic-
ited, and which your first letter gave us every reason to suppose
would be extended for the purpose of initiating a negotiation in
which neither Government would compromise its rights or its dig-
nity, a document has been presented which provokes as much indig-
1 nation as surprise. It bears no feature of resemblance to that which
was originally offered, and is unlike any paper which ever before
emanated from the constitutional Executive of a free people. Ad-
dressed "to whom it may concern," it precludes negotiation, anj
prescribes in advance the terms and conditions of peac& It returns
to the original policy of "no bargaining, no negotiations, no truces
with rebels, except to bury their dead, until every man shall have
laid down his arms, submitted to the Government, and sued for
mercy." What may be the explanation of this sudden and entire
change in the views of the President, of this rude withdrawal of a
courteous overture for negotiation at the moment it was likely to be
accepted, of this emphatic recall of words of peace just uttered, and



536 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

fresh blasts of war to the bitter end, we leave for the speculation of
those who have the means or inclination to penetrate the mysteries
of his cabinet, or fathom the caprice of his imperial will. It is enough
for us to say that we have no use whatever for the paper which has
been placed in our hands. We could not transmit it to the President
of the Confederate States without offering him an indignity, dishon-
oring ourselves, and incurring the well-merited scorn of our country-
men.

Whilst an ardent desire for peace pervades the people of the Con-
federate States, we rejoice to believe that there are few, if any.
among them, who would purchase it at the expense of liberty, honor,
and self-respect. If it can be secured only by their submission tc
terms of conquest, the generation is yet unborn which will witness
its restitution. If there be any military autocrat in the North who
is entitled to proffer the conditions of this manifesto, there is none
in the South authorized to entertain them. Those who control our
armies are the servants of the people, not their masters, and they
have no more inclination than they have right to subvert the social
institutions of the sovereign States, to overthrow their established
constitutions, and to barter away their priceless heritage of self-
government.

This correspondence will not, however, we trust, prove wholly
barren of good results.

If there is any citizen of the Confederate States who has clung to
a hope that peace was possible with this Administration of the Fed-
eral Government, it will strip from his eyes the last film of such a
delusion; or if there be any whose hearts have grown faint under the
suffering and agony of this bloody struggle, it will inspire them
with fresh energy to endure and brave whatever may yet be requisite
to preserve to themselves and their children all that gives dignity
and value to life, or hope and consolation to death. And if there be
any patriots or Christians in your land, who shrink appalled from the
illimitable vista of private misery and public calamity which stretches
before them, we pray that in their bosoms a resolution may be quick-
ened to recall the abused authority and vindicate the outraged civ-
ilization of their country. For the solicitude you have manifested to
inaugurate a movement which contemplates results the most noble
and humane, we return our sincere thanks, and are most respectfully
and truly, Your obedient servants,

C. C. Clay, Jr.
James P. Holcombe.

The letter to Mr. Jewett in which it was enclosed was as •!
follows : —

Clifton House, Niagara Falls, July 20, 1864.
Col. W. C. Jewett, Cataract House, Niagara Falls:

We are in receipt of your note admonishing us of the departure
of Hon. Horace Greeley from the Falls, that he regrets the sad jj
termination of the initiatory steps taken for peace, in consequence
of the change made by the President in his instructions to convey



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 537

commissioners to Washington for negotiations, unconditionally, art!
that Mr. Greeley will be pleased to receive any answer we may have
to make through you. We avail ourselves of this offer to enclose
a letter to Mr. Greeley which you will oblige us by delivering. We
cannot take leave of you without expressing our thanks for your
courtesy and kind offices as the intermediary through whom our cor-
respondence with Mr. Greeley has been conducted, and assuring
you that we are, very lespectfully,

Your obedient servants,

C. C. Clay, Jr.
James P. Holcombe.

Mr. Greeley, before his departure, gave the following cer-
tificate to Mr. Jewett : —

International Hotel, Niagara Falls, July 20, 1864.

In leaving the Falls. I feel bound to state that I have had no inter-
course with the Confederate gentlemen at the Clifton House, but
such as I was fully authorized to hold by the President of- the United
States, and that I have done nothing in the premises but in fulfill*
ment of his injunctions. The notes, therefore, which you have inter-
changed between those gentlemen and myself, can in no case subject
you to the imputation of unauthorized dealing with public enemies.

To W. C. jEWETr, Esq. Horace Greele\.

In their note of July 20, to Mr. Jewett, enclosing their
final letter to Mr. Greeley, the rebel emissaries acknowledge
the assurance, received from Mr. Jewett, that Mr. Greeley
"regrets the sad termination of the initiatory steps taken for
peace, in consequence of the change made by the President
in his instructions to convey commissioners to Washington
for negotiations unconditionallly." The Commissioners must
have misunderstood Mr. Jewett, or Mr. Jewett must have
misrepresented Mr. Greeley, in this report of the ground of
his "regrets," or else Mr. Greeley must have taken a position
quite at variance with the facts of the case. Mr. Greeley
could scarcely have believed that the President had "changed
his instructions" in the least degree ; and he must have known
•#iat the result of the attempted negotiation was due to a
wholly different cause.

The first resoonse made by the President to Mr. Greeley's
urgent entreaty that peace commissioners should be received,
was dated July 9, and said : —

"If you can find any person professing to have any proposition of
Jefferson Davis, in writing, for peace, embracing the restoration of
the Union, and abandonment of slavery, whatever else it embraces,
say to him that he may come to me,"



538 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, A^ND

At the very outset, therefore, the President distinctly speci-
fied the conditions on which he would receive the pretended
commissioners : — they must bring written propositions for
peace from Davis, and those propositions must embrace two
of the things which Mr. Greeley himself had suggested, — the
restoration of the Union, and the abandonment cf slavery.
So far as appears, Mr. Greeley neither showed this letter of
the President to the pretended agents of the Rebel Govern-
ment, nor did he inform them in any way of the conditions
on which alone they would be received. Then in his letters
of July ioth and 13th, to the President, without making any
reference to these conditions, he reiterates his pressing en-
treaty that the negotiations may be encouraged, and that the
rebel agents may be received at Washington. To this the
President replied, expressing his disappointment that the
'jommissioners had not already arrived, and saying,

"If they would consent to come, on being shown my letter to you,
of the Qth inst. (in which the conditions of their coming were dis-
tinctly stated), show that and this to them, and if they will come
on the terms stated in the former, bring them."

Notwithstanding these explicit and peremptory instruc-
tions, it does not appear that Mr. Greeley gave the rebel
agents any information whatever as to the "terms" of their
being received, nor did he show them either of the President's
two letters in which these terms were stated. But he pro-
ceeded to make arrangements for their visit to Washington,
and went to Niagara Falls to bear them company. There he
addressed them a letter on the 17th of July, saying that, if it
was true, as he had been informed, that they were "duly ac-
credited from Richmond as the bearers of propositions look-
ing to the establishment of peace" and in the fulfilment of their
mission, he was "authorized by the President of the United
States to tender them his safe-conduct on the journey prfr
posed." Mr. Greeley was not authorized to tender these
agents a safe-conduct to Washington upon any such terms,
but only on certain other conditions which he concealed from
the agents, and of which he took no notice whatever, either
in his correspondence with them or with the President. Their
reply to him, however, corrected his impression that they
were "duly accredited" from Richmond to negotiate for
peace. They had no authority of the kind, but expressed



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 539

their belief that they could get it, and, upon this presump-



Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 41)