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[517] of the peace party was quite encouraging, and it seemed that the real issue to be decided in the Presidential election of that year was the continuance or cessation of the war. A commission of three persons, eminent in position and intelligence, was accordingly appointed to visit Canada with a view to negotiation with such persons in the North as might be relied upon to aid the attainment of peace. The commission was designed to facilitate such preliminary conditions as might lead to formal negotiations between the two governments, and they were expected to make judicious use of any political opportunity that might be presented.

The commissioners—Messrs. Clay of Alabama, Holcombe of Virginia, and Thompson of Mississippi—established themselves at Niagara Falls in July, and on the 12th commenced a correspondence with Horace Greeley of New York. Through him they sought a safe conduct to Washington. Lincoln at first appeared to favor an interview, but finally refused on the ground that the commissioners were not authorized to treat for peace. His final announcement to them was the following:

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C., 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 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.

This movement, like all others which had preceded it, was a failure.

On December 30, 1864, I received a request from Francis P. Blair, a distinguished citizen of Montgomery County, Maryland, for permission to visit Richmond for certain personal objects. This was conceded to him. On January 12, 1865, he visited me, and the following statement of our interview was immediately afterward prepared:

Richmond, Virginia, January 12, 1865.
Memorandum of a confidential conversation held this day with F. P. Blair of Montgomery County, Maryland.
Mr. Blair stated that, not receiving an answer to his application for permission to visit Richmond, which had been sent from the headquarters of General Grant's army, he returned to Washington and there received the reply which had been made to his application, but by some means had been withheld from him and been forwarded after having been opened; that he had originally obtained permission to visit Richmond from Mr. Lincoln, after stating to him that

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