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“ [84] than I am doing? I would give my poor life, gladly, if it would bring peace and good — will to the two countries; but it would not. It is with your own people you should labor. It is they who desolate our homes, burn our wheat-fields, break the wheels of wagons carrying away our women and children, and destroy supplies meant for our sick and wounded. At your door lies all the misery and the crime of this war-and it is a fearful, fearful account.”

“Not all of it, Mr. Davis. I admit a fearful account, but it is not all at our door. The passions of both sides are aroused. Unarmed men are hanged, prisoners are shot down in cold blood, by yourselves. Elements of barbarism are entering the war on both sides, that should make us-you and me, as Christian men-shudder to think of. In God's name, then, let us stop it. Let us do something, concede something, to bring about peace. You cannot expect, with only four and a half millions, as Mr. Benjamin says you have, to hold out forever against twenty millions.”

Again Mr. Davis smiled.

“ Do you suppose there are twenty millions at the North determined to crush us?”

“I do — to crush your government. A small number of our people, a very small number, are your friends — Secessionists. The rest differ about measures and candidates, but are united in the determination to sustain the Union. Whoever is elected in November, he must be committed to a vigorous prosecution of the war.”

Mr. Davis still looking incredulous, I remarked:

It is so, sir. Whoever tells you otherwise deceives you. I think I know Northern sentiment, and I assure you it is so. You know we have a system of lyceum-lecturing in our large towns. At the close of these lectures, it is the custom of the people to come upon the platform and talk with the lecturer. This gives him an excellent opportunity of learning public sentiment. Last winter I lectured before nearly a hundred of such associations, all over the North--from Dubuque to Bangor — and I took pains to ascertain the feeling of the people. I found a unanimous determination to crush the rebellion and save the Union at every sacrifice. The majority are in favor of Mr. Lincoln, and nearly all of those opposed to him are opposed to him because they think he does not fight you with enough vigor. The radical republicans, who go for slave-suffrage and thorough confiscation, are those who will defeat him, if he is defeated. But if he is defeated before the people, the House will elect a worse man — I mean worse for you. It is more radical than he is — you can see that from Mr. Ashley's Reconstruction Bill-and the people are more radical than the House. Mr. Lincoln, I know, is about to call out five hundred thousand more men, and I can't see how you can resist much longer; but if you do, you will only deepen the radical feeling of the Northern people! They will now give you fair, honorable, generous terms; but let them suffer much more, let there be a dead man in every house, as there is now in every village, and they will give you no terms — they will insist on hanging every rebel south of----. Pardon my terms. I mean no offence.

“ You give no offence,” he replied, smiling very pleasantly. “I wouldn't have you pick your words. This is a frank, free talk, and I like you the better for saying what you think. Go on.”

“I was merely going to say, that let the Northern people once really feel the war — they do not feel it yet — and they will insist on hanging every one of your leaders.”

“Well, admitting all you say, I can't see how it affects our position. There are some things worse than hanging or extermination. We reckon giving up the right of self-government one of those things.”

“ By self-government you mean disunion---Southern independence?”

“ Yes.”

“ And slavery, you say, is no longer an element in the contest.”

“ No, it is not, it never was an essential element. It was only a means of bringing other conflicting elements to an earlier culmination. It fired the musket which was already capped and loaded. There are essential differences between the North and the South that will, however this war may end, make them two nations.”

“You ask me to say what I think. Will you allow me to say that I know the South pretty well, and never observed those differences?”

“Then you have not used your eyes. My sight is poorer than yours, but I have seen them for years.”

The laugh was upon me, and Mr. Benjamin enjoyed it.

“ Well, sir, be that; as it may, if I understand you, the dispute between your government and ours is narrowed down to this : Union or Disunion.”

“ Yes; or to put it in other words: Independence or Subjugation.”

“ Then the two governments are irreconcilably apart. They have no alternative but to fight it out. But it is not so with the people. They are tired of fighting, and want peace ; and as they bear all the burden and suffering of the war, is it not right they should have peace, and have it on such terms as they like?”

“ I don't understand you. Be a little more explicit.”

“ Well, suppose the two governments should agree to something like this: To go to the people with two propositions : say Peace, with Disunion and Southern Independence, as your proposition — and Peace, with Union, Emancipation, no Confiscation, and Universal Amnesty, as ours. Let the citizens of all the United States (as they existed before the war) vote ‘Yes,’ or ‘No,’ on these two propositions, at a special election, within sixty days. If a majority votes Disunion, our government to be bound by it, and to let ”

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