States' courts were to be re-established; the people of all the states to be guaranteed their political rights and franchises, as well as their rights of person and property, and not to be disturbed by reason of the war, so long as they abstained from acts of armed hostility and obeyed the laws.
In fine, peace and a general amnesty were to be declared, on condition of the disbandment of the rebel armies, the distribution of arms, and the resumption of peaceful pursuits by the officers and men of those armies.
This memorandum covered a great deal of ground.
It included ‘all the Confederate armies in existence’; it defined the future status of the states and populations in rebellion; and conceded every point that the rebels could possibly claim or hope to carry, except the single one of the supremacy of the government.
It said nothing, however, about the abolition of slavery, the right of secession, the punishment of past treason, or security against future rebellion.
The concluding paragraph was in these words: ‘Not being fully empowered by our respective principals to fulfill these terms, we individually and officially pledge ourselves to promptly obtain the necessary authority, and to carry out the above programme.’
The next day Sherman
published an order to his troops, beginning: ‘The general commanding announces to the army a suspension of hostilities, and an agreement with General Johnston
and high officials, which, when formally ratified, will make peace from the Potomac
to the Rio Grande
A messenger was instantly sent to convey these terms to Washington
, under cover to Grant