having, as our President supposed, opened the way for another effort at negotiations, it was promptly made. He immediately sent a delegation through the lines for that purpose, consisting of Vice-President Stephens, Judge Campbell, late of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Honorable R. M. T. Hunter, C. S. Senator from the State of Virginia-men all eminent for their abilities, public services, and the long continued confidence and respect of their countrymem. The first two are well known to have opposed the beginning of this war, and to sympathize with the general desire for negotiations. They were met at Fortress Monroe, by President Lincoln and Mr. Seward, his Secretary of State, who, without allowing them to leave the boat on which they arrived, told them what appears in the following official report:
RICHMOND, February 5, 1865.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES:
SIR: Under your letter of appoin of Commissioners of the 28th, we proceeded to seek an informal conference with Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, upon the subject mentioned in your letter. The conference was granted, and took place on the 3rd instant on board a steamer anchored in Hampton Roads, where we met President Lincoln and Honorable Mr. Seward, Secretary of State for the United States. It continued for several hours, and was both full and explicit. We learned from them that the message of President Licoln, to the Congress of the United States in December last explains clearly and distincly his sentiments as to the terms, conditions, and mode of proceeding by which peace could be secured to the people, and we were not informed that they would be modified or altered to attain that end. We understood from him no terms or proposals of any treaty or agreement looking to an ultimate settlement would be entertained or made by him with the authorities of the Confederate States, because that would be a rocognition of their existence as a separate power, which, under no circumstances, would be done, and for like reasons, that no such terms would be entertained by him from States separately, that no extended truce or armistice, as at prevent advised, would be granted or allowed, without a satisfactory assurance in advance of the complete restoration of the authority of the Constitution and laws of the United States over all places withithe Confederacy; that whatever circumstances may follow from the re-establishment of that authority must be accepted out and out. Indiividuals subject to pains and penalties under the laws of the United States might rely upon a very liberal use of the power confided to him, to rent these pains and penalties if peace be restored. During such confirence the proposed amendments to the Constitution adopted by Congress on the 31st ultimo were brought to our notice. These should exist within the United States, or in any place within its jurisdiction, and Congress should have power to enforce the amendments by appropriate legislation.
Off all the correspondence that proceded the conference the conference herein mentioned, and leading to the same, you have heretofore been informed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servants,
A. H. STEPHENS,
R. M. T. HUNTER,
J. A. CAMPBELL.
Thus you see that neither terms nor conditions were spoken of in the interview, but only subjugation offered us, the mere details of which they proposed to settle. At one blow all our hopes in the humanity and moderation of our enemies were dashed to the ground. No terms or proposals of a treaty, coming either from the Confederate States, or any one of the States, would be entertained, but a complete, absolute, and unconditional submission to the Constitution and laws of the United States is required as a preliminary step to any, even the slightest, cessation of hostilities. Seeing, then, that we can treat with the enemy neither of hostilities. Seeing, then, that we can treat with the enemy neither by the authorities of the Confederate States, nor by separate State, action, what will be the result if we submit, as we are required to do? This we can partly judge by examining that Constitution and those laws to which we are required to yoild obedience.