Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/72

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68 Southern Historical Society Papers.

[From the Richmond (Va.) Dispatch, July 27, 1897.]

THE TRUTH OF HISTORY.

Judge Reagan on the Hampton Roads Conference.

A REPLY TO WATTERSON.

No Offer Made to Pay for the Slaves The Testimony of President Davis, Vice-President Stephens and Others.

AUSTIN, TEXAS, July 20, To the Editor of the Dispatch :

In the address delivered by me at the annual reunion of Con- federate veterans at Nashville, Tenn., on the 22d of June, discussing the question as to why the war was not brought to an end sooner than it was by a compromise, it became -necessary for me to refer to a story often told, that President Lincoln, at the Hampton Roads Conference, February 3, 1865, offered to pay $400,000,000 for the slaves of the South to secure peace and a restoration of the Union. This statement has been often made for the purpose of showing that the Southern people might have been paid that sum for their slaves, and that the war might have been terminated and its sacrifices avoided, if President Davis and the Confederate authorities had accepted this offer from President Lincoln. I felt that it was due to the Confederate authorities, due to truth, and necessary as a historic fact, that I should declare, on that great occasion, "that no such offer in any form was made."

The Nashville American newspaper, of the 26th of June, 1897, published a communication from Mr. R. H. Baker, of Watertown, Tenn., under the head lines, "Judge Reagan in Error," in which he took issue with me on that question, thereby necessarily assuming that President Lincoln had made such an offer.

The day on which Mr. Baker's article was published I sent a note to the American, stating that on my return home I would send to that paper a statement of the authorities on which I made the denial that any such offer had been made.

Pursuant to that promise, on the 7th day of July, 1897, I sent my letter of that date to the American, giving some of the authorities on which I based my denial that President Lincoln had offered