Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/273

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Efforts For Reconstruction.

gloomy picture of affairs. It was addressed to Gen. Breckinridge.

On the 6th March, I had written a very full letter to Gen. Breckinridge on the situation of affairs. It was the last of several efforts to promote a negotiation for peace. Mr. Rives and Gen. Lee had conversed upon an unfinished draft of it before it was handed to Gen. B. This letter as delivered advised a call for a report from Gen. Lee and a reference of the matter to congress.

This letter of Gen. Lee was the report required in that suggestion.

I was familiar with its contents, I felt at liberty to speak more freely and in more detail upon the subject of Gen. Lee's condition than before and had I renewed the expression of the opinion in which Gen. W. concurred, that Gen. Lee's army could not be held together if an armistice were granted and that peace must follow upon such a measure. I told him that the action of Mr. Davis in refusing all negotiation upon the basis of union had compelled conservative men to act independently of his authority. That Gov. Graham had returned to North Carolina and had already, I believed, instituted measures for securing separate State action. That the legislature would meet there in May next, and would vote for a return to the Union. I advised that the same measure that Mr. Lincoln had adopted for Virginia be extended to North Carolina and that it would be productive of beneficent consequences. Gen. Weitzel invited me to repeat in writing what I had communicated to him. This I did on the same or a following day. This letter I learn was sent to Washington. My entire action and interference has now been stated. You will see that I neither misunderstood nor misrepresented Mr. Lincoln as stated. Mr. Lincoln desired the Legislature of Virginia to be called together to ascertain and to test its disposition to co-operate with him in terminating the war. He desired it to recall the troops of Virginia from the Confederate service and to return to the United States and to submit to the national authority. He never for a moment spoke of the Legislature except as a public corporate body, representing a substantial portion of the State. I was in doubt whether others than the Legislature were included