January 18, 1865: Lincoln Note to Blair

Lincoln v. Davis

 

After Francis P. Blair returned to Washington from Richmond with a note from Jefferson Davis indicating a willingness to enter into negotiations, go here and here for background on Blair’s mission and his meeting with Davis, Lincoln had a decision to make.  Refuse to enter into negotiations and that would anger both moderate Republicans and Democrats.  Enter into negotiations, and both mainstream and radical Republicans would be dismayed.  Lincoln hit upon a shrewd response.  He would enter into negotiations, but he would couch his agreement in such terms as clearly to indicate no weakening in his resolve to preserve the Union:

 

FP Blair Esq

Sir

You having shown me Mr Davis’ letter to you of the 12th inst, you may say to him that I have constantly been, am now and
shall continue ready to receive any agent when he or any other influential person now resisting the national authority
may informally send to me with the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.

Yours &c

(Signed) A Lincoln

The ball was now back in the court of the Confederates.  They could now enter into negotations, but Lincoln had made clear that preservation of the Union was not subject to such discussions.

Published in: on January 18, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Practically Historical.

    • Thanks! This is a part of the Civil War that does not get much coverage: Peace negotiations. By this time of course, it was clear that the Union was going to win, but earlier in the War Robert E. Lee was eager for peace negotiations, assuming, correctly I think, that if the North could be brought to the negotiating table, say after a major defeat of the Army of the Potomac north of the Potomac, the result probably would end in Confederate Independence.. The strategy might well have worked with a President less determined to preserve the Union, and also willing to pay the ghastly price in casualties that was necessary to reach that goal.

      • I would have liked to be in that room. Lincoln and Stephens were old buddies.

      • Both had powerful minds and both remained, essentially, Whigs. The horror of the War in miniature, with two old friends divided by the bloodiest war in our history.


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