Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/561

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Second Congress.

ence with him upon the issues involved in the existing war, and for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

Jefferson Davis.

The substantial object to be attained by the informal conference is to ascertain upon what terms the existing war can be terminated honorably. Our instructions contemplate a personal interview between President Lincoln and ourselves at Washington; but, with this explanation, we are ready to meet any person or persons that President Lincoln may appoint, at such place as he may designate. Our earnest desire is that a just and honorable peace may be agreed upon, and we are prepared to receive or to submit propositions which may possibly lead to the attainment of that end.

Very respectfully yours,

Alex. H. Stephens,

Robert M. T. Hunter,

John A. Campbell.

A note of these gentlemen, subsequently addressed to General Grant, has already been given in Major Eckert's dispatch of the 1st inst. I also saw here for the first time the following note addressed by the Richmond gentlemen to Major Eckert:

City Point, Va., February 2, 1865.

Thomas T. Eckert, Major and A. D. C.

Major: In reply to your verbal statement that your instructions did not allow you to alter the conditions upon which a passport would be given to us, we say that we are willing to proceed to Fortress Monroe, and there to have an informal conference with any person or persons that President Lincoln may appoint, on the basis of his letter to Francis P. Blair of the 18th of January, ultimo, or upon any other terms or conditions that he may hereafter propose not inconsistent with the essential principles of self-government and popular rights, upon which our institutions are founded. It is our earnest wish to ascertain, after a free interchange of ideas and information, upon what principles and terms, if any, a just and honorable peace can be established without the further effusion of blood, and to contribute our utmost efforts to accomplish such a result. We think it better to add that in accepting your passport we are not to be understood as committing ourselves to anything, but to carry on this informal conference with the views and feelings above expressed.

Very respectfully yours, etc.,

Alex. H. Stephens,

R. M. T. Hunter,

J. A. Campbell.

[Note. The above communication was delivered to me at Fortress Monroe at 4:30 p.m., Feb. 2, by Lieut. Col. Babcock, of Gen. Grant's Staff.

Thos. T. Eckert. Major and A. D. C.]