1 lie Peace Commission Mr. Hunter's Reply. 307
did not utterly neglect my duty to the people, but endeavored to soften their fall as much as possible.
Shortly after my return to Kichmond, in an interview I had with the President in his own house, not at my instance, but at his invitation, I urged that if bethought as I did, that all chance of our success was gone and further resistance hopeless, it became him to consider whether some accomodation with the enemy might not be obtained which would be better than the terms that would be allowed us after a surrender at discretion. I urged it upon him that he owed it to his own reputation and character as well as to a gallant people to leave some evidence of his having endeavored to mitigate their sufferings and secure them some relief when further resistance had become hopeless.
I told him, further, that I knew the difficulties in the way of his making the first propositions for treating to the Senate; that many would treat it as a confession of despair, and this might only impel the enemy to greater exertions; but thai I thought I could promise that the Senate would pass resolutions requesting him to negotiate ior peace and ascertain the terms that could be had, if he would allow me to assure them that he could carry them out and do his utmost to settle the matter on the best terms possible. I assured him that I thought there would be no difficulty in obtain- ing these resolutions, by which the Senate would have assumed the responsibility and take it from his shoulders. I said that, if necessary, I would introduce the resolutions myself, and we could draw them together.
There was a senator of high character and of many noble qualities sick at a neighboring house. He had so much influence in the Confederacy that, if he had been for peace, the movement would have been irresistible in the Congress if backed by the Gov- ernment. . Upon the proposition of one of us I forget which we went to see him and discussed the matter. Unfortunately, as I thought then, and still think, he did not concur with me. When questioned during these interviews of my own opinion as to the chances of peace, I replied that I could not say, whilst remember- ing Mr. Lincoln's declaration that he would not treat whilst we retained arms in our hands, but said that the interests for peace were so great that I doubted if he would be allowed to retain that extreme ground; but at any rate, if we made just efforts for peace