To Fernando Wood
December 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Hon. Fernando Wood December 12, 1862.
My dear Sir Your letter of the 8th. with the accompanying note of same date, was received yesterday. The most important paragraph in the letter, as I consider, is in these words: “On the 25th. November last I was advised by an authority which I deemed likely to be well informed, as well as reliable and truthful, that the Southern States would send representatives to the next congress, provided that a full and general amnesty should permit them to do so. No guarranties or terms were asked for other than the amnesty referred to.”
I strongly suspect your information will prove to be groundless; nevertheless I thank you for communicating it to me.
Understanding the phrase in the paragraph above quoted “the Southern States would send representatives to the next congress” to be substantially the same as that “the people of the Southern States would cease resistance, and would re-inaugerate, submit to, and maintain the national authority, within the limits of such states under the Constitution of the United States,” I say, that in such case, the war would cease on the part of the United States; and that, if within a reasonable time “a full and general amnesty” were necessary to such end, it would not be withheld.
I do not think it would be proper now for me to communicate this, formally or informally, to the people of the Southern States. My belief is that they already know it; and when they choose, if ever, they can communicate with me unequivocally. Nor do I think it proper now to suspend military operations to try any experiment of negotiation.
I should, nevertheless, receive with great pleasure the exact information you now have, and also such other as you may in any way obtain. Such information might be more valuable before the first of January than afterwards.
While there is nothing in this letter which I shall dread to see in history, it is, perhaps, better for the present, that it’s existence should not become public.
I therefore have to request that you will regard it as confidential. Your Obt. Servt A. LINCOLN