Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/371

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341
First Congress.

circumstances, but no little upon the character and efficiency of the agent. It so occurs to me, and so feeling I have been prompted to address you these lines. My object is, solely, to inform you that I am ready and willing to undertake such a mission with a view to such ulterior ends, if any fit opportunity offers in the present state of our affairs in relation to the exchange of prisoners, or any other matter of controversy growing out of the conduct of the war, and if also you should be of opinion that I could be useful in such position. I am at your service, heart and soul, at any post you may assign me where I see any prospect of aiding, assisting, or advancing the great cause we are engaged in and of securing with its success the blessings of permanent peace, prosperity, and constitutional liberty.

Should the present position of affairs in your opinion be suitable, of which I am not so well informed as you are, and this suggestion so far meet your approval as to cause you to wish to advise further with me on the subject, you have but to let me know; otherwise no reply is necessary, and none will be expected.

With best wishes for you personally and our common country in this day of her trial, I remain yours, etc.,

Alexander H. Stephens.


REPLY OF MR. DAVIS.

Richmond, July 2, 1863.

Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Richmond, Va.

Sir: Having accepted your patriotic offer to proceed as a military commissioner under flag of truce to Washington, you will receive herewith your letter of authority to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. The letter is signed by me, as Commander in Chief of the Confederate land and naval forces.

You will perceive from the terms of the letter that it is so worded as to avoid any political difficulties in its reception. Intended exclusively as one of those communications between belligerents which public law recognizes as necessary and proper between hostile forces, care has been taken to give no pretext for refusing to receive it on the ground that it would involve a tacit