Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/182

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172
Southern Historical Society Papers.

that the enemy were not sufficiently aware of our condition to make their knowledge in that particular an important element in the negotiation.

THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY.

As the difficulties of meeting seemed to increase, the impatience of the bystanders to bring the parties together grew very rapidly. One of General Grant's officers assured us that Mrs. Grant had expressed her opinion openly that her husband ought to send us on, and permit no vital difficulties to break up the interview. She said we were known to be good men, and she believed that our intentions were praiseworthy, and she doubted not but that something good would result if we and Mr. Lincoln could be brought together; but that if Mr. Seward were allowed to intervene between us he would break up all prospect of a settlement of the difficulties by his wily tactics. She seemed to have a poor opinion of his purposes or management. She impressed us very favorably by her frankness and good feelings, but somehow the difficulties were removed, and after a delay of about twenty-four hours, steam was gotten up and we were on our way to the place of meeting. We all moved under some excitement; we were all desirous of a fair settlement, and neither expected nor wished unequal advantages or an unfair adjustment. We were no diplomatists, unused in the practices of negotiation; immense events might be in store for us; great possibilities of change ahead of us, and possibly through us seeds might be sown from which new destinies might spring or changes effected which might alter the course of empire itself. We would probably soon know what would be the effect of our own action or how it would result for our country. These were dreary thoughts to any men, but particularly to those who felt the load of a peculiar responsibility for the turn which events might take. We had formed no particular scheme of negotiation, no definite line of policy by which exciting dispositions on both sides might be molded to satisfactory results. Mr. Stephens seemed possessed with the opinion that secession might be recognized as a conservative remedy by the Northern population, as subsequent conversations proved. He made it evident, too, that he believed the Monroe doctrine might be made the cement of union among our populations. He acted on the principle that by a union to drive the French out of Mexico, our people could be reunited at home. The extent to which he carried these opinions was strange indeed. Judge Campbell seemed to repose his hopes on an armistice to be formed by