February 5, 1865.
To the President of the Confederate States:
SIR: Under your letter of appointment of the 28th ultimo, we proceeded to seek an informal interview with Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, upon the subject mentioned in the letter. The conference was granted, and took place on the 30th [3d] instant, on board of a steamer anchored in Hampton Roads, where we met President Lincoln and the Hon. Mr. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States. It continued for several hours, and was both full and explicit. We learned from them that the message of President Lincoln to the Congress of the United States in December last explains clearly and distinctly his sentiments as to the terms, conditions, and method of proceeding by which peace can be secured to the people, and we were not informed that they would be modified or altered to obtain that end. We understood from him that no terms or propositions of any treaty or agreement looking to an ultimate settlement would be entertained or made by him with the authorities of the Confederate States, because that would be a recognition of their existence as a separate power, which under no circumstances would be done, and for like reasons that no such terms would be entertained by him from the States separately; that no extended truce or armistice, as at present advised, would be granted or allowed, without a satisfactory assurance in advance of a complete restoration of the authority of the Constitution and laws of the United States over all places within the States of the Confederacy; that whatever consequences may follow from the re-establishment of that authority must be accepted, but that individuals subject to pains and penalties under the laws of the United States might rely upon a very liberal use of the power confided to him to remit these pains and penalties if peace be restored.
During the conference the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States adopted by Congress on the 31st ultimo were brought to our notice. These amendments provide that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for crime, should exist within the United States, or any place within their jurisdiction, and that Congress should have power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation.
Of all the correspondence that preceded the conference herein mentioned, and leading to the same, you have heretofore been informed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servants,
ALEX. H. STEPHENS.
R. M. T. HUNTER.
J. A. CAMPBELL.
RETURN TO HAMPTON ROADS MEETING PAGE