Page:Abraham Lincoln address (1909).djvu/31

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29

As some evidence of this, it is claimed, first, that in the so-called "Peace Conference" held in Hampton Roads in February, 1865, Mr. Lincoln offered, if the South would return to the Union, that the Federal Government would pay for the slaves by making an appropriation of four hundred millions of dollars for that purpose. Indeed, it is claimed that he said to Mr. Stephens:

"Let me write 'Union' at the top of this page, and you may then write any other terms of settlement you may deem proper."

We undertake to say, after a careful reading of the joint and several reports of our commissioners (Messrs. Stephens, Hunter and Campbell), and after reading the message sent by Mr. Lincoln to Congress after his return from that conference, that there is no just foundation for any such claim.

Mr. Lincoln himself says:

"No papers were exchanged or produced, and it was in advance agreed that the conversation was to be informal and verbal merely. On our part, the whole substance of the instructions to the Secretary of State hereinbefore recited was stated and insisted upon, and nothing was said inconsistent therewith."

The instructions to the Secretary here referred to in reference to slavery were:

"No receding by the Executive of the United States on the slavery question from the position assumed thereon in the annual message to Congress and in preceding documents."

And the terms here referred to in the annual message to Congress were:

"I retract nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made a year ago, that while I remain in my present position I will not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation."

Certainly there was nothing in the Emancipation Proclamation which indicated any intention or desire on his part to make any compensation for the slaves of the Southern people.

And Colonel McClure, who, as before stated, is a partizan of Mr. Lincoln, and claims everything for him that could possibly be claimed, says this matter was not even suggested by Mr. Lincoln