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[665] invite those now at Niagara to exhibit their credentials and submit their ultimatum.

H. G.

The President hereupon saw fit — alike to the surprise and the regret of his correspondent — to depute him to proceed to Niagara, and there communicate with the persons in question. He most reluctantly consented to go, but under a misapprehension which insured the failure of the effort in any event. Though he had repeatedly and explicitly written to the President that he knew nothing as to what the Confederates in Canada might or would propose as a basis of adjustment, and did not greatly care (since the more unreasonable their proposition, the better for the National cause), and had neither purpose nor desire to be made a confidant, much less an agent in the premises, it was expected on the President's part that he was virtually and substantially to negotiate and settle the basis of a pacification with them; so that their visit to Washington was in effect to be the result, and not the possible occasion, of adjustment and peace. This expectation was indicated in a final note from the President, transmitted by his Private Secretary, Maj. Hay, with the message that sent him to Niagara; but its purport was misapprehended in view of his explicit, repeated refusals to do more in the premises than be the means of bringing the Confederate agents to Washington, provided they should prove to be responsibly accredited. The whole matter thus terminated in failure and disappointment, with some exasperation on the Rebel side, and very decided condemnation on the part of the Opposition, because of a final missive from the President, couched in these terms:

Executive Mansion, Washington, July 18, 1864.
To whom it may concern:
Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity 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 ad 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.


Messrs. Clay and Holcombe made the most of this in a public manifesto, intended to “fire the Southern heart,” and to disaffect those in the loyal States who were anxious for honorable peace at the earliest moment. And there was a very widespread impression that the overture of the Confederates had not been met in the manner best calculated to strengthen the National cause and invigorate the arm of its supporters. In other words, it was felt that — since the overture originated with them — they should have been allowed to make their own proposition, and not required in effect to make one dictated to them from our side, however inherently reasonable.

But, happily, another negotiation-even more irregular and wholly clandestine — had simultaneously been in progress at Richmond, with a similar result. Rev. Col. James F. Jaques, 73d Illinois, with Mr. J. R. Gilmore, of New York, had, with President Lincoln's knowledge, but without his formal permission, paid a visit to the Confederate capital on a Peace errand; being allowed to pass through the lines of both armies for the purpose. Arrived in Richmond, they addressed a joint letter to Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of State, requesting an interview with

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