War of the Rebellion: Serial 096 Page 0472 N. AND SE. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

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of the 18th of January to Mr. Blair. If they should express their assent to this condition in writing then Major Eckert was directed to give them safe conduct to Fort Monroe, where a person coming from the President would meet them.

It being thought probable, from a report of their conversation with Lieutenant-General Grant, that the Richmond party would, in the manner prescribed, accept the condition mentioned, the Secretary of State was charge by the President with the duty of representing this Government in the expected informal conference. The Secretary arrived at Fort Monroe in the night of the 1st day of February. Major-Eckert met him on the morning of the 2nd of February with the information that the persons who had come from Richmond had into accepted, in writing, the conditions upon which he was allowed to give them conduct to Fort Monroe. The major had given the same information by telegraph to the President at Washington. On receiving this information the President prepared a telegram directing the Secretary to return to Washington. The Secretary was preparing at the same moment to so return, without waiting for instructions from the President; but at this juncture Lieutenant-General Grant telegraphed to the Secretary of War, as well as to the Secretary of State, that the party from Richmond had reconsidered and accepted the conditions tendered them through Major Eckert, and General Grant urgently advised the President to confer in person with the Richmond party. Under these circumstances the Secretary, by the President's direction, remained at Fort Monroe, and the President join him there on the night of the 2nd of February. The Richmond party was brought down the James River in a U. S. steam transport during the day, and the transport was anchored in Hampton Roads.

On the morning of the 3rd the President, attended by the Secretary, received Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell on board the U. s. steam transport River Queen, in Hampton Roads. The conference was altogether informal. There was no attendance of secretaries, clerks, or other witnesses. Nothing was written or read. The conversation, although earnest and free, was calm and courteous, and kind on both sides. The Richmond party approached the discussion rather indirectly, and at no time did they either make categorical demands or tender formal stipulations or absolute refusals. Nevertheless, during the conference, which lasted four hours, the several points at issue between the Government and the insurgents were distingly raised and discussed fully, intelligently, and in an amicable spirit. What the insurgent party seemed chiefly to favor was a postponement of the question of separation, upon which the war is waged, and a mutual direction of efforts of the Government, as well as those of the insurgents, to some extrinsic policy or scheme for a season, during which passions might be expected to subside, and the armies be reduced, and trade and intercourse between the people of both sections resumed. It was suggested by them that through such postponement we might now have immediate peace, with some not very certain prospect of an ultimate satisfactory adjustment of political relations between the Government and the States, section, or people now engaged in conflict with it.

This suggestion, though deliberately considered, was nevertheless regarded by the President as one of armistice or truce, and he announced that we can agree to no cessation or suspension of hostilities, except on the basis of the disbandment of the insurgent forces and the restoration of the national authority throughout all the States in the Union. Collaterally and in subordination to the proposition