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 exchange of prisoners. The Secretary of State, Benjamin, to whom they were conducted, accompanied them to my office. Colonel Jacques expressed the ardent desire he felt, in common with the men of their army, for a restoration of peace, using such emphatic terms as that the men would go home in double-quick time if they could only see peace restored. Gilmore addressed me, and in a few minutes conveyed the information that the two gentlemen had come to Richmond impressed with the idea that the Confederate government would accept a peace on the basis of a reconstruction of the Union, the abolition of slavery, and the grant of an amnesty to the people of the states as repentant criminals. In order to accomplish the abolition of slavery, it was proposed that there should be a general vote of all the people of both federations, in mass, and the majority of the vote thus taken was to determine that as well as all other disputed questions. These were stated to be Lincoln's views. The impudence of the remarks could be extenuated only because of the ignorance displayed and the profuse avowal of the kindest motives and intentions. I answered that, as these proposals had been prefaced by the remark that the people of the North were a majority, and that a majority ought to govern, the offer was, in effect, a proposal that the Confederate States should surrender at discretion, admit that they had been wrong from the beginning of the contest, submit to the mercy of their enemies, and avow themselves to be in need of pardon for their crimes; that extermination was preferable to dishonor. I stated that, if they were themselves so unacquainted with the form of their own government as to make such propositions, Lincoln ought to have known, when giving them his views, that it was out of the power of the Confederate government to act on the subject of the domestic institutions of the several states, each state having exclusive jurisdiction on that point, still less to commit the decision of such a question to the vote of a foreign people. Having no dispositions to discuss questions of state with such persons, especially as they bore no credentials, I terminated the interview, and they withdrew with Benjamin. The opening of the spring campaign of 1864 was deemed a favorable conjuncture for the employment of the resources of diplomacy. To approach the government of the United States directly would have been in vain. Repeated efforts had already demonstrated its inflexible purpose—not to negotiate with the Confederate authorities. Political developments at the North, however, favored the adoption of some action that might influence popular sentiment in the hostile section. The aspect
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