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Chapter 50:

  • Subjugation the object of the government of the United States
  • -- the only terms of peace offered to us -- rejection of all proposals -- efforts of the enemy -- appearance of Jacques and Gilmore at Richmond -- proposals -- answer -- commissioners sent to Canada -- the object -- proceedings -- note of President Lincoln -- permission to visit Richmond granted to Francis P. Blair -- statement of my interview with him -- my letter to him -- response of President Lincoln -- three persons sent by me to an informal conference -- their report -- remarks of Judge Campbell -- oath of President Lincoln -- the provision of the Constitution and his proclamation compared -- reserved powers spoken of in the Constitution -- what are they, and where do they exist? -- terms of surrender offered to our soldiers.

That it was the purpose of the government of the United States to subjugate the Southern states and the Southern people, under the pretext of a restoration of the Union, is established by the terms and conditions offered to us in all the conferences relative to a settlement of differences. All were comprehended in one word, and that was subjugation. If the purpose had been an honorable and fraternal restoration of the Union as was avowed, methods for the adjustment of difficulties would have been presented and discussed; propositions for reconciliation with concessions and modifications for grievances would have been kindly offered and treated; a way would have been opened for a mutual and friendly intercourse. How unlike this were all the propositions offered to us, will be seen in the proceedings which took place in the conferences, and in the terms of surrender offered to our soldiers. It should be remembered that mankind composes one uniform order of beings, and thus the language of arbitrary power has the same signification in all ages. When Major Pitcairn marched the British soldiers upon the common at Lexington in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775, and, drawing his sword, rushed upon the little line of Continentals, exclaiming: ‘Disperse, ye rebels! throw down your arms and disperse!’ he expressed the same conditions which were offered to us in all our negotiations with the President of the United States and his generals. Does any one doubt that Major Pitcairn meant subjugation, or that Great Britain meant [515] subjugation? Let them as dispassionately construe the government of the United States in its declarations to us.

Several efforts were made by us to communicate with the authorities at Washington without success. Commissioners were sent before hostilities were begun, and the government of the United States refused to receive them, or to hear what they had to say. A second time I sent a military officer with a communication addressed by myself to President Lincoln. The letter was received by General Scott, who did not permit the officer to see Mr. Lincoln, but promised that an answer would be sent. No answer was ever received. The third time a gentleman was sent whose position, character, and reputation were such as to insure his reception, if the enemy had not been determined to receive no proposals whatever from our government. Vice-President Stephens made a patriotic tender of his services, in the hope of being able to promote the cause of humanity; although little belief was entertained of his success, I cheerfully yielded to his suggestions, that the experiment should be tried. The enemy refused to let him pass through their lines or to hold any conference with him. He was stopped before he reached Fortress Monroe.

If we would break up our government, dissolve the Confederacy, disband our armies, emancipate our slaves, take an oath of allegiance binding ourselves to obedience to it and to disloyalty to our own states, the government of the United States proposed to pardon us, and not to deprive us of anything more than the property already robbed from us, and such slaves as still remained. In order to render the proposals so insulting as to secure their rejection, the President of the United States joined to them a promise to support with his army one-tenth of the people of any state who would attempt to set up a government over the other nine-tenths, thus seeking to sow discord among the people of the several states, and to excite them to civil war in furtherance of his ends.

The next movement relating to the accommodation of differences occurred in July, 1864, and consisted in the appearance at Richmond of Colonel James F. Jacques of the Seventy-eighth Illinois Infantry, and James R. Gilmore of Massachusetts, soliciting an interview with me. They stated that they had no official character or authority, ‘but were fully possessed of the views of the United States government, relative to an adjustment of the differences existing between the North and the South,’ and did not doubt that a free interchange of views would open the way to official negotiations, etc. They had crossed our lines through a letter of General Grant to Colonel Ould, commissioner for the [516] exchange of prisoners. The Secretary of State, Benjamin, to whom they were conducted, accompanied them to my office. Colonel Jacques expressed the ardent desire he felt, in common with the men of their army, for a restoration of peace, using such emphatic terms as that the men would go home in double-quick time if they could only see peace restored. Gilmore addressed me, and in a few minutes conveyed the information that the two gentlemen had come to Richmond impressed with the idea that the Confederate government would accept a peace on the basis of a reconstruction of the Union, the abolition of slavery, and the grant of an amnesty to the people of the states as repentant criminals. In order to accomplish the abolition of slavery, it was proposed that there should be a general vote of all the people of both federations, in mass, and the majority of the vote thus taken was to determine that as well as all other disputed questions. These were stated to be Lincoln's views. The impudence of the remarks could be extenuated only because of the ignorance displayed and the profuse avowal of the kindest motives and intentions.

I answered that, as these proposals had been prefaced by the remark that the people of the North were a majority, and that a majority ought to govern, the offer was, in effect, a proposal that the Confederate States should surrender at discretion, admit that they had been wrong from the beginning of the contest, submit to the mercy of their enemies, and avow themselves to be in need of pardon for their crimes; that extermination was preferable to dishonor. I stated that, if they were themselves so unacquainted with the form of their own government as to make such propositions, Lincoln ought to have known, when giving them his views, that it was out of the power of the Confederate government to act on the subject of the domestic institutions of the several states, each state having exclusive jurisdiction on that point, still less to commit the decision of such a question to the vote of a foreign people. Having no dispositions to discuss questions of state with such persons, especially as they bore no credentials, I terminated the interview, and they withdrew with Benjamin.

The opening of the spring campaign of 1864 was deemed a favorable conjuncture for the employment of the resources of diplomacy. To approach the government of the United States directly would have been in vain. Repeated efforts had already demonstrated its inflexible purpose—not to negotiate with the Confederate authorities. Political developments at the North, however, favored the adoption of some action that might influence popular sentiment in the hostile section. The aspect [517] of the peace party was quite encouraging, and it seemed that the real issue to be decided in the Presidential election of that year was the continuance or cessation of the war. A commission of three persons, eminent in position and intelligence, was accordingly appointed to visit Canada with a view to negotiation with such persons in the North as might be relied upon to aid the attainment of peace. The commission was designed to facilitate such preliminary conditions as might lead to formal negotiations between the two governments, and they were expected to make judicious use of any political opportunity that might be presented.

The commissioners—Messrs. Clay of Alabama, Holcombe of Virginia, and Thompson of Mississippi—established themselves at Niagara Falls in July, and on the 12th commenced a correspondence with Horace Greeley of New York. Through him they sought a safe conduct to Washington. Lincoln at first appeared to favor an interview, but finally refused on the ground that the commissioners were not authorized to treat for peace. His final announcement to them was the following:

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C., July 18, 1864.
To whom it may concern:
Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms on other substantial and collateral points, and the bearer or bearers thereof shall have safe conduct both ways.

This movement, like all others which had preceded it, was a failure.

On December 30, 1864, I received a request from Francis P. Blair, a distinguished citizen of Montgomery County, Maryland, for permission to visit Richmond for certain personal objects. This was conceded to him. On January 12, 1865, he visited me, and the following statement of our interview was immediately afterward prepared:

Richmond, Virginia, January 12, 1865.
Memorandum of a confidential conversation held this day with F. P. Blair of Montgomery County, Maryland.
Mr. Blair stated that, not receiving an answer to his application for permission to visit Richmond, which had been sent from the headquarters of General Grant's army, he returned to Washington and there received the reply which had been made to his application, but by some means had been withheld from him and been forwarded after having been opened; that he had originally obtained permission to visit Richmond from Mr. Lincoln, after stating to him that [518] he (Mr. Blair) had for many years held friendly relations with myself. Mr. Lincoln stopped him, though he afterward gave him permission to visit me. He stated, in explanation of his position, that he, being a man of Southern blood, felt very desirous to see the war between the States terminated, and hoped by an interview with me to be able to effect something to that end; that, after receiving the pass which had been sent to him by my direction, he sought before returning to have a conversation with Mr. Lincoln; had two appointments for that purpose, but on each occasion was disappointed, and, from the circumstances, concluded that Mr. Lincoln avoided the interview, and therefore came not only without credentials but without such instructions from Lincoln as enabled him to speak for him. His views, therefore, were to be regarded merely as his own, and said they were perhaps merely the dreams of an old man, etc. He said, despairing of being able to see me, he had determined to write to me, and had the rough draft of a letter which he had prepared, and asked permission to read it. Soon after commencing to do so, he said (pleasantly) that he found his style was marked by his old pursuit, and that the paper appeared too much like an editorial. He omitted, therefore, portions of it, reading what he considered the main points of his proposition. He had recognized the difference of our positions as not entitling him to a response from me to the arguments and suggestions which he desired to offer. I therefore allowed him to read without comment on my part. When he had finished, I inquired as to his main proposition, the cessation of hostilities and the union of the military forces for the common purpose of maintaining the ‘Monroe doctrine’—how that object was to be reached. He said that both the political parties of the United States asserted the Monroe doctrine as a cardinal point of their creed; that there was a general desire to apply it to the case of Mexico. For that purpose a secret treaty might be made, etc. I called his attention to my past efforts for negotiation, and my inability to see—unless Mr. Lincoln's course in that regard should be changed— how we were to take the first step. He expressed the belief that Mr. Lincoln would now receive commissioners, but subsequently said he could not give any assurance on that point, and proposed to return to Washington to explain his project to Mr. Lincoln, and notify me, if his hope proved well founded, that Mr. Lincoln would now agree to a conference for the purpose of entering into negotiations. He affirmed that Mr. Lincoln did not sympathize with the radical men who desired the devastation and subjugation of the Southern States, but that he was unable to control the extreme party, which now had great power in the Congress, and would at the next session have still more; referred to the existence of two parties in the Cabinet, to the reluctant nomination of Mr. Chase to be Chief-Justice, etc. For himself, he avowed an earnest desire to stop the further effusion of blood, as one every drop of whose blood was Southern. He expressed the hope that the pride, the power, and the honor of the Southern States should suffer no shock; looked to the extension of Southern territory even to the Isthmus of Darien, and hoped, if his views found favor, that his wishes would be realized; reiterated the idea of State sovereignty, with illustrations, and accepted the reference I made to explanation given in the ‘Globe,’ when he edited it, of the proclamation of General Jackson.

When his attention was called to the brutal atrocities of their armies, especially the fiendish cruelty shown to helpless women and children, as the cause of a [519] deep-seated hostility on the part of our people, and an insurmountable obstacle to an early restoration of fraternal relations, he admitted the necessity for providing a new channel for the bitter waters, and another bond than that of former memories and interests. This was supposed to be contained in the proposed common effort to maintain the ‘Monroe doctrine’ on the American Continent. It was evident that he counted on the disintegration of the Confederate States if the war continued, and that in any event he regarded the institution of slavery as doomed to extinction. I thought any remark by me on the first proposition would lead to intimations in connection with public men which I preferred not more distinctly to hear than as manifested in his general remarks; on the latter point, for the reason stated, the inequality of his responsibility and mine, I preferred to have no discussion. The only difficulty which he spoke of as insurmountable was that of existing engagements between European powers and the Confederate States. This point, when referred to a second time as the dreaded obstacle to a secret treaty which would terminate the war, was met by me with a statement that we had now no such complication, were free to act as to us should seem best, and desired to keep state policy and institutions free from foreign control. Throughout the conference Mr. Blair appeared to be animated by a sincere desire to promote a pacific solution of the existing difficulty, but claimed no other power than that of serving as a medium of communication between those who had thus far had no intercourse, and were therefore without the co-intelligence which might secure an adjustment of their controversy. To his hopeful anticipation in regard to the restoration of fraternal relations between the sections, by the means indicated, I replied that a cessation of hostilities was the first step toward the substitution of reason for passion, of sense of justice for a desire to injure, and that, if the people were subsequently engaged together to maintain a principle recognized by both, if together they should bear sacrifices, share dangers, and gather common renown, that new memories would take the place of those now planted by the events of this war, and might, in the course of time, restore the feelings which preexisted. But it was for us to deal with the problems before us, and leave to posterity questions which they might solve, though we could not; that, in the struggle for independence by our colonial fathers, had failure instead of success attended their effort, Great Britain, instead of a commerce which has largely contributed to her prosperity, would have had the heavy expense of numerous garrisons, to hold in subjection a people who deserved to be free and had resolved not to be subject. Our conference ended with no other result than an agreement that he would learn whether Mr. Lincoln would adopt his (Mr. Blair's) project, and send or receive commissioners to negotiate for a peaceful solution of the questions at issue; that he would report to him my readiness to enter upon negotiations, and that I knew of no insurmountable obstacle to such a treaty of peace as wuld secure greater advantage to both parties than any result which arms could achieve.

January 14, 1865.
The foregoing memorandum of conversation was this day read to Mr. Blair, and altered in so far as he desired, in any respect, to change the expressions employed.


The following letter was given by me to Blair:

Sir: I have deemed it proper and probably desirable to you to give you in this form the substance of remarks made by me to be repeated by you to President Lincoln, etc., etc.

I have no disposition to find obstacles in forms, and am willing now, as heretofore, to enter into negotiations for the restoration of peace, am ready to send a commission whenever I have reason to suppose it will be received, or to receive a commission if the United States Government shall choose to send one. That, notwithstanding the rejection of our former offers, I would, if you could promise that a commissioner, minister, or other agent would be received, appoint one immediately, and renew the effort to enter into conference with a view to secure peace to the two countries. Yours, etc.,

Washington, January 18, 1865.
F. P. Blair, Esq.
Sir: You having shown me Mr. Davis's letter to you of the 12th instant, you may say to him that I have constantly been, am now, and shall continue ready to receive any agent whom he or any other influential person now resisting the national authority may informally send to me with the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.

Yours, etc.,

When Blair returned and gave me this letter of Lincoln of January 18th, it being a response to my note to Blair of the 12th, he said it had been a fortunate thing that I gave him that note, as it had created greater confidence in Lincoln regarding his efforts at Richmond. Further reflection, he said, had modified the views he formerly presented to me, and that he wanted to have my attention for a different mode of procedure.

He had, as he told Lincoln, held friendly relations with me for many years; they began as far back as when I was a schoolboy at Lexington, Kentucky, and he a resident of that place. In later years we had belonged to the same political party, and our views had generally coincided. There was much, therefore, to facilitate our conference. He then unfolded to me the embarrassment of Lincoln on account of the extreme men in Congress and elsewhere who wished to drive him into harsher measures than he was inclined to adopt, whence it would not be feasible for him to enter into any arrangement with us by the use of political agencies; that, if anything beneficial could be effected, it must be done without the intervention of the politicians. He therefore suggested that Generals Lee and Grant might enter into an arrangement by which hostilities would be suspended, and a way paved for the restoration of [521] peace. I responded that I would willingly entrust to General Lee such negotiation as was indicated.

The conference then ended, and to report to Lincoln the result of his visit, Blair returned to Washington. He subsequently informed me that the idea of a military convention was not favorably received at Washington, so it remained only for me to act upon the letter of Lincoln.

I determined to send, as commissioners or agents for the informal conference, Messrs. Alexander H. Stephens, R. M. T. Hunter and John A. Campbell.

A letter of commission or certificate of appointment for each was prepared by the Secretary of State in the following form:

In compliance with the letter of Mr. Lincoln, of which the foregoing is a copy, you are hereby requested to proceed to Washington City for conference with him upon the subject to which it relates. . . .

This draft of a commission was, upon perusal, modified by me so as to read as follows:

Richmond, January 28, 1865.
In conformity with the letter of Mr. Lincoln, of which the foregoing is a copy, you are requested to proceed to Washington City for an informal conference with him upon the issues involved in the existing war, and for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries.

Some objections were made to this commission by the United States officials, because it authorized the commissioners to confer for the purpose ‘of securing peace to the two countries’; whereas the letter of Lincoln, which was their passport, spoke of securing peace to the people of “our one common country.” But these objections were finally waived.

The letter of Lincoln having expressed a willingness to receive any agent I might send to Washington city, a commission was appointed to go there; it was not allowed to proceed further, however, than Hampton Roads, where Lincoln, accompanied by Seward, met the commissioners. Seward craftily proposed that the conference should be confidential, and the commissioners regarded this so binding on them as to prevent them from including in their report the discussion which occurred. This enabled Seward to give his own version of it in a dispatch to the United States Minister to the French government, which was calculated to create distrust of, if not hostility to, the Confederacy on the part of the power in Europe most effectively favoring our recognition.

Why Lincoln changed his purpose and, instead of receiving the commissioners at Washington, met them at Hampton Roads, I cannot, of course, explain. Several causes may be conjecturally assigned. The commissioners were well known in Washington, had there held high [522] positions, and, so far as there was any peace party there, might have been expected to have influence with its members; a more important inquiry, however, is: If Lincoln previously had determined to hear no proposition for negotiation, and to accept nothing less than an unconditional surrender, why did he propose to receive informally our agent? If there was nothing to discuss, the agent would have been without functions.

I think the views of Lincoln had changed after he wrote the letter to Blair of June 18th, and that the change was mainly produced by the report which he made of what he saw and heard at Richmond on the night he stayed there. Blair had many acquaintances among the members of the Confederate Congress; all those of the class who, of old, fled to the cave of Adullam, ‘gathered themselves unto him.’

Hunter, in a published article on the peace commission, referring to Blair's visit to Richmond, says: ‘He saw many old friends and party associates. Here his representations were not without effect upon his old confederates, who for so long had been in the habit of taking counsel with him on public affairs.’ He then goes on to describe Blair as revealing dangers of such overwhelming disaster as turned the thoughts of many Confederates toward peace more seriously than ever before. That Blair saw and noted this serious inclining of many to thoughts of peace, scarcely admits of a doubt; if he believed the Congress to be infected by a cabal undermining the executive in his efforts successfully to prosecute the war, Lincoln may be naturally supposed thence to have reached the conclusion that he should accept nothing but an unconditional surrender, and that he should not allow a commission from the Confederacy to visit the United States capital.

The report of the commissioners, dated February 5, 1865, was as follows:

To the President of the Confederate States:
Sir: Under your letter of appointment of the 28th ult. we proceeded to seek ‘an informal conference’ with Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, upon the subject mentioned in the letter. The conference was granted and took place on the 30th ult., on board of a steamer anchored in Hampton Roads, where we met President Lincoln and the Hon. Mr. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States. It continued for several hours, and was both full and explicit. We learned from them that the message of President Lincoln to the Congress of the United States, in December last, explains clearly and distinctly his sentiments as to the terms, conditions, and method of proceeding by which peace can be secured to the people, and we were not informed that they would be modified or altered to obtain that end. We understood from him that no terms or proposals of any treaty, or agreement looking to an ultimate settlement, would be entertained or made by him with the authorities of the Confederate States, [523] because that would be a recognition of their existence as a separate power, which under no circumstances would be done; and, for a like reason, that no such terms would be entertained by him for the States separately; that no extended truce or armistice (as at present advised) would be granted or allowed without a satisfactory assurance in advance of the complete restoration of the authority of the Constitution and laws of the United States over all places within the States of the Confederacy; that whatever consequences may follow from the reestablishment of that authority must be accepted; but that individuals subject to pains and penalties under the laws of the United States might rely upon a very liberal use of the power confided to him to remit those pains and penalties if peace be restored.

During the conference, the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States adopted by Congress on the 31st ultimo was brought to our notice.

This amendment provides that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for crime, should exist within the United States, or any place within their jurisdiction, and that Congress should have power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation. Very respectfully, etc.,

Thus closed the conference, and all negotiations with the government of the United States for the establishment of peace. Says Judge Campbell, in his memoranda:

In conclusion, Mr. Hunter summed up what seemed to be the result of the interview: that there could be no arrangements by treaty between the Confederate States and the United States, or any agreements between them; that there was nothing left for them but unconditional submission.

By reference to the message of President Lincoln of December 6, 1864, which is mentioned in the report, it appears that the terms of peace therein stated were as follows:

In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the national authority on the part of the insurgents, as the only indispensable condition to ending the war on the part of the Government, I retract nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made a year ago, that ‘while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any act of Congress.’

If the people should, by whatever mode or means, make it an executive duty to reenslave such persons, another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform it.

On March 4, 1861, President Lincoln appeared on the western portico of the Capitol at Washington, and in the presence of a great multitude of witnesses took the following oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the [524] United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The first section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States is in these words:

No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

The intelligent reader will observe that the words of this section, ‘in consequence of any law or regulation therein,’ embrace a President's emancipation proclamation, as well as any other regulation therein. Thus the Constitution itself nullified Lincoln's proclamation, and made it of no force whatever. Yet he assumed and maintained, with all the military force he could command, that it set every slave free. Which is the higher authority, Lincoln and his emancipation proclamation or the Constitution? If the former, then what are constitutions worth for the protection of rights?

Again he says:

Nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation or by an act of Congress.

But the Constitution says he shall return them—

but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service is due.

Who shall decide? Which is sovereign, Lincoln and his proclamation or the Constitution? The Constitution says:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land.

Was it thus obeyed by Lincoln as the supreme law of the land? It was not obeyed, but set aside, subverted, overturned by him. But he said in his oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Did he do it? Is such treatment of the Constitution the manner to preserve, protect, and defend it? Of what value, then, are paper constitutions and oaths binding officers to their preservation, if there is not intelligence enough in the people to discern the violations, and virtue enough to resist the violators?

Again the report says:

We understood from him that no terms or proposals of any treaty or agreement looking to an ultimate settlement would be entertained or made by him with the authorities of the Confederate States, because that would be a [525] recognition of their existence as a separate power, which under no circumstances would be done; and, for a like reason, that no such terms would be entertained by him for the States separately.

Now the Constitution of the United States says, in Article X:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Within the purview of this article of the Constitution the states are independent, distinct, and sovereign bodies—that is, in their reserved powers they are as sovereign, separate, and supreme as the government of the United States in its delegated powers. One of these reserved powers is the right of the people to alter or abolish any form of government, and to institute a new one such as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness; that power is neither ‘delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States.’ On the contrary, it is guaranteed to the states by the Constitution itself in these words:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Mark the words, ‘are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’ No one will venture to say that a sovereign state, by the mere act of accession to the Constitution, delegated the power of secession. The assertion would be of no validity if it were made; the question is one of fact as to the powers delegated or not delegated to the United States by the Constitution. It is absurd to ask if the power of secession in a state is delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the states. No trace of the delegation or prohibition of this power is to be found in the Constitution. It is, therefore, as the Constitution says, ‘reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’

The convention of the state of New York, which ratified the Constitution of the United States on July 26, 1788, in its resolution of ratification said:

We do declare and make known . . . that the powers of Government may be reassumed by the people, whensoever, it shall become necessary to their happiness; that every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States, or to the departments of the Government thereof, remains to the people of the several States, or to their respective State governments, to whom they may have granted the same. . . . Under these impressions, and declaring that the rights aforesaid can not be abridged or violated . . . we, the said delegates, in the name and in behalf of the people of the State of New York, do, by these presents, assent to and ratify the said Constitution.

With this and other conditions stated in the resolution of ratification, [526] it was accepted and approved by the other states, and New York became a member of the Union. The resolution of Rhode Island asserts the same reservation in regard to the reassumption of powers.

It is unnecessary to examine here whether this reserved power exists in the states respectively or in the people; when the Confederate States seceded, it was done by the people, acting through, or in conjunction with, the state, and by that power which is expressly reserved to them in the Constitution of the United States. When Lincoln, therefore, issued his proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand men to subjugate certain ‘combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings,’ he not only thereby denied the validity of the Constitution, but sought to resist, by military force, the exercise of a power clearly reserved in the Constitution, and reaffirmed in its tenth amendment, to the states respectively or to the people for their exercise. But, in order to justify his flagrant disregard of the Constitution, he contrived the fiction of ‘combinations,’ and upon this basis commenced the bloody war of subjugation with all its consequences. Thus, any recognition of the Confederate States, or of either of them, in his negotiations would have exposed the groundlessness of his fiction. But the Constitution required him to recognize each of them, for they had simply exercised a power which it expressly reserved for their exercise. Thus it is seen who violated the Constitution, and upon whom rests the responsibility of the war.

It has been stated above that the conditions offered to our soldiers whenever they proposed to capitulate, were only those of subjugation. When General Buckner, on February 16, 1862, asked of General Grant to appoint commissioners to agree upon terms of capitulation, he replied:

No terms, except unconditional and immediate surrender, can be accepted.

When General Lee asked the same question, on April 9, 1865, General Grant replied:

The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms, they will hasten that most desirable event, save thoussands of human lives and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed.

When General Sherman made an agreement with General Johnston for formal disbandment of the army of the latter, it was at once disapproved by the government of the United States, and Sherman therefore wrote to Johnston:

I demand the surrender of your army on the same terms as were given to General Lee at Appomattox, on April 9th, purely and simply.

It remains to be stated that the government which spurned all these [527] proposals for peace, and gave no terms but unconditional and immediate surrender, was instituted and organized for the purposes and objects expressed in the following extract, and for no others:

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


Operations Mississippi


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