Message of President Lincoln on the Hampton Roads Conference, Including Correspondence.
Executive Mansion, Feb. 10, 1865.
To the Honorable House of Representatives.
In response to your resolution of the 8th inst., requesting information in relation to a conference held in Hampton Roads, I have the honor to state that on the date I gave Francis P. Blair, Senior, a card written as follows, to wit:
December 28, 1864.
Allow the bearer, F. P. Blair, Sr., to pass our lines, go South, and return.
That at the time I was informed that Mr. Blair sought the card as a means of getting to Richmond, Va., but he was given no authority to speak or act for the Government. Nor was I informed of anything he would say or do on his own account or otherwise.
Mr. Blair told me that he had been to Richmond and had seen Mr. Jefferson Davis, and he (Mr. Blair) at the same time left with me a manuscript letter as follows, to wit:
Richmond, Va., January 12, 1865.
F. P. Blair, Esq.
Sir: I have deemed it proper and probably desirable to you to give you in this form the substance of the remarks made by me to be repeated by you to President Lincoln, 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. I 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. Notwithstanding the rejection of our former offers, I would, if you could promise that a Commission, Minister, or other agent would be received, appoint one immediately, and renew the effort to enter into a conference with a view to secure peace to the two countries.
Afterwards, with a view that it should be shown to Mr. Davis, I wrote and delivered to Mr. Blair a letter, as follows, to wit:
Washington, January 18, 1865.
F. P. Blair, Esq.
Sir: You having shown me Mr. Davis's letter to you of the 12th inst., 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 me, with a view of securing peace to the people of our common country.