Within a week after this conference I met Mr. Stephens at Burkeville, on the Richmond & Danville railroad. I was on my way to Salisbury, N. C., where my headquarters then were, and he to his home in Georgia. The train was very slow, and we missed the connection at Danville, and therefore stayed all night at the tavern there.
Mr. Stephens was full of the conference and the great meeting, which he had attended the night before, or two or three other nights before, at the African church, on Broad street in Richmond, and on the train and at night at the tavern he talked constantly and frankly, and I am gratified to find how accurate my memory is about what he told me of what had happened at the conference, in testing that memory by the statements in his book.
But he told me something else that is not in the book. He said: "Mr. Lincoln told us, 'you may take a blank sheet of paper and write on it, first, submission to the Constitution and the laws of the United States, and second, emancipation of the slaves, and then write any other laws you please below those two, and I will sign it."
He did not mention the names of those who were willing to pay $400,000,000 for the slaves, but gave us to understand that Horace Greeley and the Tribune would support such a proposition, said Mr. Stephens.Mr. Stephens was very emphatic in impressing on me his views and purpose in urging an armistice. I do not think much of the scheme of uniting to enforce the Monroe doctrine and driving the French out of Mexico. In fact, I hoped the Yanks would get into a row with Napoleon III, for that would bring recognition, open ports, and independence to us, and told him so. I do not remember what he said about the Monroe doctrine, but I am very clear about the armistice. "If we can get them to stop fighting," said he, "for six months, three months, one month, the war will stop. Both sides are tired of it. They now know what war is, and they'll stop it. A general truce, to include all the armies and the whole country, will inevitably force peace. When Henry IV of France got a truce—an armistice—a cessation of fighting between Catholics and Protestants—he secured permanent peace and the kingdom for himself." I did not know much about Henry IV, in truth, except that he was a gentleman who swapped his religion for a kingdom, saying, "a crown is worth a mass," so I said what I thought—that a man who would change his faith for pay was a poor pattern to follow, and I had no idea of making professions to secure profits. But Stephens