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[434] me of your strong disposition in favor of peace, and that you were oppressed with a demand of the Commissioners of the Confederate States for a reply to their first letter, and that you desired to avoid, if possible, at that time. I told him I might, perhaps, be of some service in arranging the difficulty. I came to your office entirely at his request, and without the knowledge of the Commissioners. Your depression was obvious to both Judge Nelson and myself. I was gratified at the character of the counsels you were desirous of pursuing, and much impressed with your observation that a civil war might be prevented by the success of my mediation. You read a letter of Mr. Weed, to show how irksome and responsible the withdrawal of troops from Sumter was. A portion of my communication to Judge Crawford on the 15th of March was founded upon these remarks, and the pledge to evacuate Sumter is less forcible than the words you employed. Those words were, “ Before this letter reaches you [a proposed letter by me to President Davis], Sumter will have been evacuated.”

The Commissioners who received those communications conclude they have been abused and overreached. The Montgomery Government hold the same opinion. The Commissioners have supposed that my communications were with you, and, upon that hypothesis, prepared to arraign you before the country in connection with the President. I placed a peremptory prohibition upon this, as being contrary to the terms of my communications with them. I pledged myself to them to communicate information upon what I considered as the best authority, and they were to confide in the ability of myself, aided by Judge Nelson, to determine upon the credibility of my informant.

I think no candid man who will read over what I have written, and consider for a moment what is going on at Sumter, will agree that the equivocating conduct of the Administration, as measured and interpreted in connection with these promises, is the proximate cause of the great calamity.

I have a profound conviction that the telegrams of the 8th of April, of Gen. Beauregard, and of the 10th of April, of Gen. Walker, the Secretary of War, can be referred to nothing else than their belief that there has been systematic duplicity practiced upon them throughout. It is under an oppressive sense of the weight of this responsibility that I submit to you these things for your explanation.

Very respectfully,

John A. Campbell, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Judge Campbell, it will be noted, takes up the thread of the furtive negotiations exactly where the Commissioners had dropped it. They had made their demand on the 12th; had been answered by Gov. Seward on the 15th; but the answer withheld; for on this day Judge C. makes his first appearance on the scene, with an assurance to the Commissioners that he felt “entire confidence that Fort Sumter would be evacuated within the next ten days,” if the Commissioners would not push matters too hurriedly to a crisis. Still later, he gave these Commissioners assurances that no attempt would be made to supply the closely invested and scantily provisioned garrison of Fort Sumter, until due notice of the intent had been given to Gov. Pickens; which promise was fulfilled to the letter.

Judge Campbell quotes Justice Nelson as testifying to Gov. Seward's “strong disposition in favor of peace.” Who ever denied or doubted it? But did he ever avow an inclination to Peace on the basis of Disunion? That is the vital point; and it is not covered, even by assertions, on the part of the Confederates. That he clung tenaciously to the hope of some “ adjustment” or “ conciliation,” whereby civil war might be averted, and the just authority of the Federal Government acknowledged and respected by the Confederate States, is manifest; and that is the whole truth, and affords a simple and obvious explanation of what seems to Confederates so mysterious, so crafty, or so atrocious. The manifest, controlling fact is, that the parties to this unique correspondence occupied positions so contrasted, so

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