To Horace Greeley
July 9, 2014 Leave a comment
Dear Sir July 9. 1864
Your letter of the 7th., with inclosures, received. If you can find, any person anywhere professing to have any proposition of Jefferson Davis in writing, for peace, embracing the restoration of the Union and abandonment of slavery, what ever else it embraces, say to him he may come to me with you, and that if he really brings such proposition, he shall, at the least, have safe conduct, with the paper (and without publicity, if he choose) to the point where you shall have met him. The same, if there be two or more persons. Yours truly A LINCOLN
On July 7, 1864, Greeley wrote Lincoln:
“I venture to inclose you a letter and telegraphic dispatch that I received yesterday from our irrepressible friend, Colorado Jewett, at Niagara Falls. I think they deserve attention. Of course, I do not indorse Jewett’s positive averment that his friends . . . have ‘full powers’ from J.D., though I do not doubt that he thinks they have. I let that statement stand as simply evidencing the anxiety of the Confederates everywhere for peace. So much is beyond doubt.
“And thereupon I venture to remind you that our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country also longs for peace—shudders at the prospect of fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, and of new rivers of human blood. And a wide-spread conviction that the Government . . . are not anxious for Peace, and do not improve proffered opportunities to achieve it, is doing great harm now, and is morally certain, unless removed, to do far greater in the approaching Elections. . . .
“I entreat you, in your own time and manner, to submit overtures for pacification to the Southern insurgents which the impartial must pronounce frank and generous. If only with a view to the momentous Election soon to occur in North Carolina, and of the Draft to be enforced in the Free States, this should be done at once.
“I would give the safe conduct required by the Rebel envoys at Niagara . . . but you may see reasons for declining it. But, whether through them or otherwise, do not, I entreat you, fail to make the Southern people comprehend that you and all of us are anxious for peace. . . .
“Mr. President, I fear you do not realize how intently the people desire any peace consistent with the national integrity and honor. . . . With United States stocks worth but forty cents in gold per dollar, and drafting about to commence on the third million of Union soldiers, can this be wondered at?
“I do not say that a just peace is now attainable, though I believe it to be so. But I do say, that a frank offer by you to the insurgents of terms . . . will . . . prove an immense and sorely needed advantage to the national cause; it may save us from a northern insurrection. . . .
“I beg you to invite those now at Niagara to exhibit their credentials and submit their ultimatum.”
The enclosed letter of William Cornell Jewett to Greeley is in part as follows: “. . . I have to advise having just left Hon Geo. N. Sanders of Ky on the Canada side. I am authorised to state to you—for our use only—not the public—that two ambassadors—of Davis & Co are now in Canada—with full & complete powers for a peace & Mr Sanders requests that you come on immediately to me at Cataract House—to have a private interview, or if you will send the Presidents protection for him & two friends, they will come on & meet you. He says the whole matter can be consummated by me you—them & President Lincoln. Telegraph me in such form—that I may know—if you come here—or they to come on—with me.”