To Horace Greeley
July 15, 2014 Leave a comment
New-York Washington, July 15, 1864
I suppose you received my letter of the 9th. I have just received yours of the 13 and am disappointed by it. I was not expecting you to send me a letter, but to bring me a man, or men. Mr. Hay goes to you with my answer to yours of the 13th. A. LINCOLN
In reply to Lincoln’s letter of July 9, supra, Greeley wrote on July 10:
“I have yours of yesterday.
“Whether there be persons at Niagara (or elsewhere) who are empowered to commit the Rebels by negotiations, is a question; but, if there be such, there is no question at all that they would decline to exhibit their credentials to me; much more to open their budget and give me their best terms. Green as I may be, I am not quite so verdant as to imagine any thing of the sort. I have neither purpose nor desire to be made a confidant, far less an agent in such negotiations. But I do deeply realize that the Rebel chiefs achieved a most decided advantage in proposing, or pretending to propose, to have A. H. Stephens visit Washington as a peace-maker, and being rudely repulsed. And I am anxious that the ground lost to the National cause by that mistake shall somehow be regained in season for effect on the approaching N. Carolina election.
“I will see if I can get a look into the hand of whomsoever may be at Niagara, though that is a project so manifestly hopeless that I have little heart for it. Still, I shall try.
“Meantime, I wish you would consider the propriety of somehow apprising the people of the South, especially those of North Carolina, that no overture or advance looking to Peace and Reunion has ever been repelled by you, but that such a one would at any time have been cordially received and favorably regarded—and would still be. . . .”
On July 13 Greeley wrote again:
“I have now information on which I can rely that two persons, duly commissioned and empowered to negotiate for peace, are at this moment not far from Niagara Falls, in Canada, and are desirous of conferring with yourself or with such persons as you may appoint and empower to treat with them. Their names, (only given in confidence) are Hon. Clement C. Clay of Alabama, and Hon. Jacob Brown of Mississippi. If you should prefer to meet them in person, they require safe conducts for themselves and for George N. Sanders, who will accompany them. Should you choose to empower one or more persons to treat with them in Canada, they will of course need no safe conduct; but they cannot be expected to exhibit credentials save to commissioners empowered as they are. In negotiating directly with yourself, all grounds of cavil would be avoided; and you would be enabled at all times to act upon the freshest advices of the military situation.
“You will of course understand that I know nothing, and have proposed nothing, as to terms, and that nothing is conceded or taken for granted by the meeting of persons empowered to negotiate for peace. All that is assumed is a mutual desire to terminate this wholesale slaughter if a basis of adjustment can be mutually agreed on. And it seems to me high time that an effort to this end should be made.
“I am of course quite other than sanguine that a Peace can now be made. But I am quite sure that a frank, earnest, anxious effort to terminate the War on favorable terms would immensely strengthen the Government in case of its failure, and would help us in the eyes of the civilized world, which now accuses us of obstinacy and indisposition even to seek a peaceful solution of our sanguinary, devastating conflict.
“Hoping to hear that you have resolved to act in the premises, and to act so promptly that a good influence may even yet be executed on the North Carolina election next month, I remain. . . .”
See the letter carried by John Hay, infra.