Vice President Stephens's views upon peace movements.The following letter from Vice President Stephens, giving his views upon "peace movements," was written in answer to a letter addressed to him by several gentlemen in the interior of the State of Georgia:
Or of the eternal co-eternal beam,
May I express thee unblamed? since God is light."
’ Indeed, I could quite so have exclaimed, but for the sad reflection that whether it shall bring healing in its beams, or be lost in dark and ominous eclipse, ere its good work be done, depends so much upon the action of others who may not regard it and view it as I do. So at best it is but a ray — small and tremulous ray — enough only to gladden the heart and quicken hope. The prominent and leading idea of that convention seems to have been a desire to reach a peaceful adjustment of our present difficulties and strife through the medium of a convocation of the States. They propose to suspend hostilities to see what can be done, if anything, by negotiation of some sort. This is one step in the right direction. To such a convention of the States I should have no objection, as a peaceful conference and interchange of views between equal and sovereign Powers — just as the convention of 1787 was called and assembled. The properly-constituted authorities at Washington and Richmond, the duly-authorized representatives of the two confederates of States now at war with each other, might give then assent to such a proposition. Good might result from it. It would be an appeal on both sides from the sword to reason and justice. All wars which do not result in the extinction or extermination of one side or the other must be ended, sooner or later, by some sort of negotiation. From the discussion and interchange of views in such a convention, the history, as well as the true nature of our institutions, and the relation of the States, towards, each other and towards the federative head, would doubtless be much better understood generally than they now are. But I should favor such a proposition only as a peaceful conference, as the convention of 1787 was. I should be opposed to leaving the questions at issue to the absolute decision of such a body. Delegates might be clothed with powers to consult and agree, if they could, upon some plan of adjustment, to be submitted for subsequent satisfaction by the sovereign States whom it affected before it should be obligatory or binding, and then binding only on such as should so ratify. It becomes the people of the South as well as the people of the North to be quite as watchful and jealous of their rights as their common ancestors were. The maintenance of liberty in all ages, times, and countries, when and where it has existed, has required not only constant vigilance and jealousy, but has often required the greatest privations and sufferings and sacrifices that people or States are ever subjected to Through such an ordeal we are now passing. --Through a like, and even severer, ordeal our ancestors passed in their struggle for the principles which it has devolved upon us thus to defend and maintain. But great as our sufferings and sacrifices have been, and are, to which you allude, they are, as yet, far short of the like sufferings and sacrifices which our fathers bore with patience, courage and fortitude in the crisis that tried men's souls" in their day. These are the that sustained them in their hour of need. Their illustrious and glorious example bids us not to underestimate the priceless inheritance they achieved for us at such a cost of treasure and blood. Great as are the odds we are struggling against, they are not greater than those against which they successfully struggled. In paint of reverses, our condition is not to be with theirs. Should Mobile, Savannah, Augusta, Macon, Montgomery, and and Richmond fall, our condition be worse or less hopeful than theirs in the hour that rested on their for With on the part of those who control our destiny in the cabinet and in the field, in husbanding and properly wielding our resources at their command, and in seeming the hearts and the affections of the people in the great cause of Right and liberty, for which we are struggling, we could all these losses and calamities, and greater even, and sun triumph in the end. At present, however, I do not see, as I stated in the outset, that you, or any number of persons in our position, can do anything towards inaugurating any new movement looking to a peaceful solution of the present strife. The war, on our part, is fairly and entirely defensive in its character. How long it will continue to be thus wickedly and mercilessly waged against us, depends upon the people of the North. Georgia, our own State, to whom we owe allegiance, has, with great unanimity, proclaimed the principles upon which a just and permanent peace ought to be sought and obtained. The Congress of the Confederate States has followed with an endorsement of these principles. All you, and I, and others in our position, therefore, can do on that line, at this time, is to sustain the movement thus already inaugurated, and to the utmost of our ability to hold up their principles as the surest hope of restoring soundness to the public mind North, as the brazen serpent was held up for the healing of Israel in the Wilderness. The chief aid and encouragement we can give the peace party at the North is to keep before them these great fundamental principles and truths, which alone will lead them and us to a permanent and lasting peace, with the possession and enjoyment of constitutional liberty. With these principles once recognized, the future would take care of itself. There would be no more war so long as they should be adhered to. All questions of boundaries, confederacies and union or unions would naturally and easily adjust themselves according to the interests of the parties and the exigencies of the times Herein lies the true law of the balance of power and the harmony of States.
Alexander H. Stephens.