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[485] liberty and freedom of speech had been secured for the principal State of the Union. They believed that the Government must at once desist from exercising in the State of New York the extraordinary (and as they regarded them) illegal and unconstitutional powers which it had assumed. They were confident that, at all events, after the 1st of January next, on which day the newly elected Governor would come into office, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus could not be practically maintained. They seemed to be persuaded that the result of the elections would be accepted by the President as a declaration of the will of the people; that he would increase the moderate and conservative element in the Cabinet; that he would seek to terminate the War, not to push it to extremity; that he would endeavor to effect a reconciliation with the people of the South, and renounce the idea of subjugating or exterminating them.

On the following morning, however, intelligence arrived from Washington Which dashed the rising hopes of the Conservatives. It was announced that Gen. McClellan had been dismissed from the Army of the Potomac, and ordered to repair to his home; that lie had, in fact, been removed altogether from active service. The Genera! had been regarded as the representative of Conservative principles in the Army Support of him had been made one of the articles of the Conservative electoral programme. His dismissal was taken as a sign that the President had thrown himself entirely into the arms of the extreme Radical party, and that the attempted to carry out the policy of that party would be persisted in. The irritation of the Conservatives at New York was certainly very great; it seemed, however, to be not unmixed with consternation and despondency.

Several of the leaders of the Democratic party sought interviews with me, both before and after the arrival of the intelligence of Gen. McClellan's dismissal. The subject uppermost in their minds, while they were speaking to me, was naturally that of foreign mediation between the North and the South. Many of them seemed to think that this mediation must come at, last; but they appeared to be very much afraid of its coming too soon. It was evident that they apprehended that a premature proposal of foreign intervention would afford the Radical party a means of reviving the violent war spirit, and of thus defeating the peaceful plans of the Conservatives. They appeared to regard the present moment as pe<*>arly unfavorable for such an otter, and, indeed, to hold that it would be essential to the success of any proposal from abroad that it should be deferred until the control of the Executive Government should be in the hands of the Conservative party.

I gave no opinion on the subject. I did not say whether or no I myself thought foreign intervention probable or advisable; but I listened with attention to the accounts given me of the plans and hopes of the Conservative party. At the bottom, I thought <*> perceived a desire to put an end to the war. even at the risk of losing the Southern States altogether; but it was plain that it was not thought prudent to avow this desire. In deed, some hints of it, dropped before the elections, were so ill received that a strong declaration in the contrary sense was deemed necessary by the Democratic leaders.

At the present moment, therefore, the chiefs of the Conservative party call loudly for a more vigorous prosecution of the way and reproach the Government with slackness as well as with want of success in its military measures. But they repudiate all idea of interfering with the institutions of the Southern people, or of waging a war of subjugation or extermination. They maintain that the object of the military operations should be to place the North in a position to demand an armistice with honor and effect. The armistice should (they hold) be followed by a Convention, in which such changes of the Constitution should be proposed as would give the South ample security on the subject of its slave property, and would enable the North and the South to reunite and to live together in peace and harmony. The Conservatives profess to think that the South might be induced to take part in such a Convention, and that a restoration of the Union would be the result.

The more sagacious members of the party must, however, look upon the proposal of a Convention merely as a last experiment to test the possibility of reunion. They are no doubt well aware that the more probable consequence of an armistice would be the establishment of Southern independence; but they perceive that, if the South is so utterly alienated that no possible concessions will induce it to return voluntarily to the Union, it is wiser to agree to separation than to prosecute a cruel and hopeless war.

It is with reference to such an armistice as they desire to attain, that the leaders of the Conservative party regard the question of foreign mediation. They think that the offer of mediation, if made to a Radical administration, would be rejected; that, if made at an unpropitious moment, it might increase the virulence with which the war is prosecuted. If their own party were in power, or virtually controlled the administration, they would rather, if possible, obtain an armistice without the aid of foreign governments; but they would be disposed to


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