To William H. Seward

Hon. William H. Seward      Executive Mansion
Secretary of State                   Washington, Jan. 31. 1865

You will proceed to Fortress-Monroe, Virginia, there to meet, and informally confer with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell, on the basis of my letter to F. P. Blair, Esq., on Jan. 18. 1865, a copy of which you have.

You will make known to them that three things are indispensable, towit:

1. The restoration of the national authority throughout all the States.

2. No receding, by the Executive of the United States on the Slavery question, from the position assumed thereon, in the late Annual Message to Congress, and in preceding documents.

3. No cessation of hostilities short of an end of the war, and the disbanding of all forces hostile to the government.

You will inform them that all propositions of theirs not inconsistent with the above, will be considered and passed upon in a spirit of sincere liberality. You will hear all they may choose to say, and report it to me.

You will not assume to definitely consummate anything. Yours &c. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.


To Ulysses S. Grant

Lieut. General Grant        Executive Mansion
City-Point, Va.                   Washington Jan. 31. 1865

A messenger is coming to you on the business contained in your despatch. Detain the gentleman in comfortable quarters until he arrives & then act upon the message he brings, as far as applicable, it having been made up to pass through Gen. Ord’s hands, & when the gentlemen were supposed to be beyond our lines.

To James M. Ashley

So far as I know, there are no peace commissioners in the city, or likely to be in it. A. LINCOLN

Jan. 31. 1865.

The copy of Lincoln’s endorsement is preserved with the copy of the letter of Representative James M. Ashley, January 31, 1865, on which it was written. Ashley’s letter of January 31, 1865, is as follows: “The report is in circulation in the House that Peace Commissioners are on their way or are in the city, and is being used against us. If it is true, I fear we shall loose the bill. Please authorize me to contradict it, if not true.”

To Alexander H. Stephens, John A. Campbell and Robert M. T. Hunter

Messrs Alex H Stephens, [January 30, 1865]

J. A. Campbell and R. M. T. Hunter.

Gentlemen I am instructed by the President of the United States to place this paper in your hands with the information that if you pass through the U.S. Military lines it will be understood that you do so for the purpose of an informal conference, on the basis of the letter, a copy of which is on the reverse side of this sheet; and that if you choose to pass on such understanding, and so notify me in writing, I will procure the Commanding General to pass you through the lines, and to Fortress-Monroe, under such military precautions as he may deem prudent; and, at which place you will be met in due time by some person or persons for the purpose of such informal conferrence. And further that you shall have protection, safe-conduct, and safe return, in all events.


Maj & A.D.C.

The body of the letter is in Lincoln’s handwriting; the names of the persons addressed and the signature are in Eckert’s autograph.

To Edward O. C. Ord

Major General Ord. [January 30, 1865]

Please procure for the bearer, Major Thomas T. Eckert an interview with Messrs. Stevens, Hunter and Campbell; and if on his return to you, he requests it, pass them through our lines to Fortress-Monroe, by such route, and under such other Military precautions as you may deem prudent, giving them protection and comfortable quarters while there. Let none of this have any effect upon your military movements or plans.

To Thomas T. Eckert

Major T. T. Eckert        Executive Mansion
Sir                                    Washington, Jan. 30. 1865

You will proceed with the documents placed in your hands; and, on reaching Gen. Ord, will deliver him the letter addressed to him by the Secretary of War; then, by Gen. Ord’s assistance, procure an interview with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter and Campbell, or any of them, deliver to him, or them, the paper on which your own letter is written, note on the copy which you retain the time of delivery, and to whom delivered, receive their answer in writing, waiting a reasonable time for it, and which, if it contain their decision to come, through, without further condition, will be your warrant to ask Gen. Ord to pass them through as directed in the letter of the Secretary of War to him. If by their answer they decline to come, or propose other terms, do not have them passed through. And this being your whole duty return and report to me. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

To Edward O. C. Ord

Major General Ord                 Washington, D.C.,
Hd. Qrs. Army of James       Jan. 30, 1865.

By direction of the President you are instructed to inform the three gentlemen, Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell, that a messenger will be despatched to them, at or near where they now are, without unnecessary delay. Edwin M Stanton

Sec of War

The body of this letter is in Lincoln’s handwriting; the signature is Stanton’s.