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 this 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 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 which was thus announced, the ani-slavery policy of the United States was reviewed in all its bearings, and the President announced that he must not be expected to depart from the positions he had heretofore assumed in his proclamation of emancipation and other documents as these positions were reiterated in his last annual message. It was further declared by the President that the complete restoration of the national authority everywhere was an indispensable condition of any assent on our part to whatever from of peace might be proposed. The President assured the other party that, while he must adhere to these positions, he would be prepared, so far as power is lodged with the Executive, to exercise liberality. His power, hoverer, is limited by the Constitution; and when peace should be made Congress must necessarily act in regard to appropriations of money and to the admission of representatives from the insurrectionary States. The Richmond party were then informed that Congress had on the 31st ultimo adopted by a constitutional majority a joint resolution submitting to the several States the proposition to abolish slavery throughout the Union, and that there is every reason to expect that it will be soon accepted by three-fourths of the States, so as to become a part of the national organic law.
The conference came to an end by natural acquiescence, without producing an agreement of views upon the several matters discussed or any of them. Nevertheless, it is perhaps of some importance that we have been able to submit our opinions and views directly to prominent insurgents, and to hear them in answer in a courteous and not unfriendly manner.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
[FEBRUARY 10, 1865.- For Lincoln to House of Representatives relative to a conference held in Hampton Roads with Messrs. A. H. Stephens, R. M. T. Hunter, and J. A. Campbell, se Series I, Vol. XLVI, Part II, p. 505.]
WAR DEPT., PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., February 10, 1865.
Major WILLIAM AUSTINE, U. S. ARMY,
Act. Asst. Provost-Marshal-General, Brattleborough, Vt.:
MAJOR: In accordance with a suggestion of the President, [on] the application of His Excellency J. Gregory Smith, Governor of the State