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[519] deep-seated hostility on the part of our people, and an insurmountable obstacle to an early restoration of fraternal relations, he admitted the necessity for providing a new channel for the bitter waters, and another bond than that of former memories and interests. This was supposed to be contained in the proposed common effort to maintain the ‘Monroe doctrine’ on the American Continent. It was evident that he counted on the disintegration of the Confederate States if the war continued, and that in any event he regarded the institution of slavery as doomed to extinction. I thought any remark by me on the first proposition would lead to intimations in connection with public men which I preferred not more distinctly to hear than as manifested in his general remarks; on the latter point, for the reason stated, the inequality of his responsibility and mine, I preferred to have no discussion. The only difficulty which he spoke of as insurmountable was that of existing engagements between European powers and the Confederate States. This point, when referred to a second time as the dreaded obstacle to a secret treaty which would terminate the war, was met by me with a statement that we had now no such complication, were free to act as to us should seem best, and desired to keep state policy and institutions free from foreign control. Throughout the conference Mr. Blair appeared to be animated by a sincere desire to promote a pacific solution of the existing difficulty, but claimed no other power than that of serving as a medium of communication between those who had thus far had no intercourse, and were therefore without the co-intelligence which might secure an adjustment of their controversy. To his hopeful anticipation in regard to the restoration of fraternal relations between the sections, by the means indicated, I replied that a cessation of hostilities was the first step toward the substitution of reason for passion, of sense of justice for a desire to injure, and that, if the people were subsequently engaged together to maintain a principle recognized by both, if together they should bear sacrifices, share dangers, and gather common renown, that new memories would take the place of those now planted by the events of this war, and might, in the course of time, restore the feelings which preexisted. But it was for us to deal with the problems before us, and leave to posterity questions which they might solve, though we could not; that, in the struggle for independence by our colonial fathers, had failure instead of success attended their effort, Great Britain, instead of a commerce which has largely contributed to her prosperity, would have had the heavy expense of numerous garrisons, to hold in subjection a people who deserved to be free and had resolved not to be subject. Our conference ended with no other result than an agreement that he would learn whether Mr. Lincoln would adopt his (Mr. Blair's) project, and send or receive commissioners to negotiate for a peaceful solution of the questions at issue; that he would report to him my readiness to enter upon negotiations, and that I knew of no insurmountable obstacle to such a treaty of peace as wuld secure greater advantage to both parties than any result which arms could achieve.


January 14, 1865.
The foregoing memorandum of conversation was this day read to Mr. Blair, and altered in so far as he desired, in any respect, to change the expressions employed.


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