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[186] both parties for a time from the questions involved in the existing strife until the passions on both sides might cool, when they would be in better temper to come to an amicable and proper adjustment, etc. Mr. Lincoln at once understood Mr. Stephens as referring to what Mr. Blair had suggested in his interviews with Mr. Davis. He said it was proper to state at the beginning that whatever Mr. Blair had said was of his own accord, and without the least authority from him; that when Mr. Blair applied for a passport to go to Richmond and desired to present certain views, he had declined to hear them; that he had given the passport, but without any authority whatever to speak for him; that when Mr. Blair returned from Richmond bringing with him Mr. Davis' letter, he had given the one alluded to in the application of the commissioners for permission to cross the lines; that he was always willing to hear propositions for peace, on the condition of that letter, and on no other; that the restoration of the Union was a sine qua non with him, and hence his instructions that no conference was to be held except upon that basis. After a short pause in the conversation Mr. Stevens continued to urge the adoption of the line of policy indicated by Mr. Blair, and claimed that it would most probably result in a restoration of the Union without further bloodshed. Among other things he said that the principles of the Monroe Doctrine were directly involved in the contest then going on in Mexico; that the Administration at Washington, according to all accounts, was decidedly opposed to the establishment of an Empire in Mexico by France, and wished to maintain the right of self-government to all peoples on this continent against the dominion or control of any European power. Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward concurred in the statement that such was the feeling of a majority of the Northern people. Then, said Mr. Stephens, ‘could not both parties in our contest come to an understanding and agreement to postpone their present strife by a suspension of hostilities between themselves until this principle is maintained in behalf of Mexico; and might it not when successfully sustained there, naturally, and would it not almost inevitably lead to a peaceful and harmonious solution of their own difficulties? Could any pledge now given make a permanent restoration of reorganization of the Union more probable or even so probable as such a result would?’ Mr. Lincoln replied with earnestness that he could entertain no proposition for ceasing active military operations which was not based upon a pledge first given for the ultimate restoration of the Union. He had considered the question of an armistice fully, and

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