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[187] could not give his consent to any proposition of that sort on the basis suggested. The settlement of existing difficulties was a question of supreme importance, and the only basis on which he would entertain a proposition for a settlement was the recognition and reestablishment of the national authority throughout the land. As the commissioners had no authority to give any such pledge, the conference seemed to be at an end.

According to an understanding between the commissioners before entering into the conference that if they failed in securing the armistice, they would then endeavor to ascertain upon what terms the Administration at Washington would be willing to end the war. Judge Campbell inquired in what way the settlement for a restoration of the Union was to be made. He wished to know something of the details. Mr. Seward then said he desired that any answer to Judge Campbell's inquiry might be postponed until the general ideas advanced by Mr. Stephens might be more fully developed. There was a general acquiescence in this suggestion, and Mr. Stephens proceeded to elaborate his views more fully. They were substantially as follows:

The terms discussed.

That the Monroe Doctrine assumed the position that no European Power should impose governments upon any peoples on this continent against their will; that the principle of the sovereign right of local self-government was peculiarly sacred to the people of the United States, as well as to the people of the Confederate States; that the Emperor of France was at that time attempting to violate this great principle in Mexico; that the suspension of hostilities and allowance of time for the blood of our people on both sides to cool towards each other, would probably lead the public mind to a clearer understanding of those principles which ought to constitute the basis of the settlement of existing difficulties; that the settlement of the Mexican question in this way would necessarily lead to a peaceful settlement of our own; that whenever it should be determined that this right of local self-government is the principle on which all American institutions rest, all the States might reasonably be expected to return of their own accord to their former relations to the Union just as they came together at first by their own consent and for their mutual interests; that we might become indeed and in truth an oceanbound Federal Republic, under the operation of this continental regulator, the ultimate, absolute sovereignty of each State.

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