Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/362

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

Underwood, it not being supposed that there was anything of particular moment before the court, and Mr. Davis was known to be absent at some quite distant point, and it was deemed certain that his case would not be called up.

I was invited to meet Justice Chase and United States District Attorney Beach at dinner at Mr. Lyons', who resided at Laburnum, since then the home of the late Joseph Bryan. I went there in company with Mr. Macfarland and noted that we were starting a good deal in advance of the hour named. On arrival I found that there was a consultation to be held between the various men who had Mr. Davis' case in charge. They soon began the discussion, and I learned that the subject before them was whether or not they should accept a proposition made by the government to have a nolle prosequi entered on the next day. There could be no doubt on this point, and the papers were even then being prepared. The men were all of the opinion that there should be no hesitation on their part in assenting. I felt, of course, that the responsibility was entirely on them, but I could net help holding another view, convinced also as I was that Mr. Davis would agree with me. I did not consider that he was any more guilty of treason than I was, and that a trial should be insisted on, which could properly only result in a complete vindication of our cause, and of the action of the many thousands who had fought, and of the many thousands who had died for what they felt to be the right. I, like all of the Confederates whom I knew, was confident that such would be the result of a trial before an honest judge, and believed Salmon P. Chase to be such a one.

The men, however, than whom no more high-toned men ever lived, differed from me, and clearly I was, indeed, an outsider. They had full charge of the interests of Mr. Davis, and it so happened that he was away from any possible communication by telegram, and it was pretty certain that the offer would not be left open to await the result of such slow correspondence as could be availed of to reach him. Attention was invited to the fact that his life was at stake, and that they were bound to take advantage of the opportunity of securing his honorable release from all danger, an opportunity which might not and indeed would not occur again. It was thought quite sure that if he