The Peace Commission of 1865.
General Grant and General Lee, and certain conditions to be declared between them on which this armistice should exist. The intercourse which would subsist during the armistice, it was thought, would hurry about peace and good feeling and the renewal of old habits of communion, and profitable trade would restore good feeling and the old habits of trade, and bring on old feelings generated by the intercourse dictated by self-interest and old association. It was believed, too, that arrangements brought on by General Grant and General Lee to restore old intercourse would be tolerated, which would be rejected if proposed by any one else.
We met Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward aboard the steamer, and soon the conference was commenced by Mr. Stephens, who seemed impressed with the idea that secession was the true conservative remedy for sectional difference, and appeared to be animated by the hope that he could convince the President and Secretary of the truth of this view. Never was hope more mistaken. Although polite, neither countenanced the idea for a moment. He next proposed another subject upon which he seemed to rely with even more confidence. He revived the old Monroe doctrine, and suggested that a reunion might be formed on the basis of uniting to drive the French out of America, and uniting to organize this continent for Americans. This was received with even less favor than I expected. Both expressed their aversion to any occupancy of Mexico by the French, but if they felt any doubt, expressed none as to the capacity of the United States Government to drive the French away. Mr. Blair, while in Richmond, talked of this as a probable basis of reunion. Mr. Lincoln was evidently afraid that he had uttered sentiments for which he could not be responsible, and earnestly disclaimed having authorized his mission—whether this was true I had my doubts then and now. It is impossible but that Mr. Lincoln must have felt anxiety on the subject of peace. If he knew of our destitution he gave no sign of it, but he did not press the peace as I had supposed he would. He distinctly affirmed that he would not treat except on the basis of reunion and the abolition of slavery. Neither Lincoln nor Seward showed any wise or considerate regard for the whole country, or any desire to make the war as little disastrous to the whole country as possible. If they entertained any such desires they made no exhibition. Their whole object seemed to be to force a reunion