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Authors: James B. Conroy

Our One Common Country

BOOK: Our One Common Country
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O
UR
O
NE
C
OMMON
C
OUNTRY

O
UR
O
NE
C
OMMON
C
OUNTRY

Abraham Lincoln and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865

J
AMES
B. C
ONROY

Copyright © 2014 by James B. Conroy

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted in writing from the publisher. Requests for permission should be addressed to Globe Pequot Press, Attn: Rights and Permissions Department, PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437.

 

Lyons Press is an imprint of Globe Pequot Press.

 

Project editors: Meredith Dias and Lauren Brancato

Layout: Melissa Evarts

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Conroy, James B.

Our one common country : Abraham Lincoln and the Hampton Roads peace conference of 1865 / James B. Conroy.      pages cm

E-ISBN 978-1-4930-0410-2 (ePub)

1. Hampton Roads Peace Conference (1865) 2. United States—History—Civil War, 1861-1865—Peace. 3. Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. I. Title.

E469.C66 2014

973.7'38—dc23

2013016670

To my wife and children, with love and gratitude

 

In memory of my grandmother

Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright

Cast of Principal Characters

Prologue

 

PART I Friends in Power

1 A Self-Immolating Devotion to Duty

2 Lacking in the Quality of Leadership

3 A Problematical Character, Full of Contradictions

4 Good and True Friends

5 The Only Way to Make Spaniels Civil Is to Whip Them

6 Who Will He Treat With, of How Commence the Work?

7 The Wise Men Are Those Who Would End It

8 I Do Not Think I Would Get Back

9 As Once a Friend and Still, I Hope, Not an Enemy

 

PART II We Are But One People

10 A Treachery Unworthy of Men of Honor

11 A New Channel for the Bitter Waters

12 We Are on the Eve of an Internal Revolution

13 A Determined Stand Ought to Be Made for Peace

14 Is There Nothing That Will Degrade a Man?

15 You Will Not Assume to Definitely Consummate Anything

16 I was Never So Much Disappointed in My Life

17 With Evident Indications of High Gratification

18 There Has Been Nothing We Could Do for Our Country

 

PART III A Suffering and Distracted Country

19 It Is More Dangerous to Make Peace Than to Make War

20 You Are All Against Me

21 Thank God We Know It Now

22 To Serve a People in Spite of Themselves

23 It Is the Province of Statesmanship to Consider of These Things

24 With Cheerful Confidence in the Result

25 Allow Judge Campbell to See This, But Do Not Make It Public

26 The Rebels Are Our Countrymen Again

27 I Am as One Walking in a Dream

 

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Notes

Selected Bibilograpy

Index

Photographs

It is impossible to say precisely when the conviction became general in the South that we were beaten. I cannot even decide at what time I myself began to think the cause a hopeless one, and I have never yet found one of my fellow Confederates, though I have questioned many of them, who could tell me with any degree of certainty the history of his change from confidence to despondency. We schooled ourselves from the first to think that we should ultimately win, and the habit of thinking so was too strong to be easily broken by adverse happenings. Having undertaken to make good our declaration of independence, we refused to admit, even to ourselves, the possibility of failure.

G
EORGE
C
ARY
E
GGLESTON

V
ETERAN OF THE
A
RMY OF
N
ORTHERN
V
IRGINIA

Postwar Manhattan newspaperman

 

 

These men are to be punished for their crimes; they are to be punished for their barbarities; they are to be punished as traitors and murderers, and not welcomed back into the social circle or legislative halls by any loyal man who now stands by this Government, in my estimation.

Z
ACHARIAH
C
HANDLER OF
M
ICHIGAN 
ON THE
F
LOOR OF THE
U
NITED
S
TATES
S
ENATE, 

A
DDRESSING THE
C
ONFEDERATE
L
EADERS'
F
ATE 
ON THE
E
VE OF THE
H
AMPTON
R
OADS
P
EACE
C
ONFERENCE

 

Cast of Principal Characters

 

 

Northerners

 

FRANCIS PRESTON BLAIR SR.

Longtime Washington powerbroker, cofounder of the Republican Party, Virginia-born and Kentucky-bred; a Lincoln loyalist and an ardent enemy of Secretary of State William Seward's.

 

MONTGOMERY BLAIR

Lincoln's postmaster general and conservative adviser before the Radical Republicans forced his resignation in September 1864; irascible eldest son of Francis Preston Blair.

 

ORVILLE HICKMAN BROWNING

A friend of Lincoln's, a partner in James Singleton's presidentially authorized business trips to the South, and a former senator from Illinois, defeated for reelection in 1862.

 

SAMUEL S. (“SUNSET”) COX

An Ohio congressman and a moderate War Democrat.

 

CHARLES DANA

Assistant Secretary of War under Edwin Stanton; a former journalist at Horace Greeley's
New York Daily Tribune
.

 

THOMAS ECKERT

Union Army major in charge of the military telegraph; one of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's closest aides.

 

JULIA DENT GRANT

The Missouri-born wife of Ulysses S. Grant.

 

ULYSSES S. GRANT

General in Chief of the United States Army.

 

HORACE GREELEY

Eccentric Republican editor of the
New York Daily Tribune,
a leading abolitionist, and one of the North's most influential opinion leaders.

 

JOHN HAY

Along with John Nicolay, one of Lincoln's two permanent live-in secretaries.

 

ELIZABETH BLAIR LEE

Daughter and aide of Francis Preston Blair, known as “Lizzie.”

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

President and commander in chief of the United States.

 

GEORGE G. MEADE

Major general in command of the Army of the Potomac; defeated Lee at Gettysburg.

 

SAMUEL NELSON

A United States Supreme Court justice from New York; Judge Campbell's friend and former colleague.

 

JOHN NICOLAY

Along with John Hay, one of Lincoln's two permanent, live-in secretaries.

 

EDWARD ORD

Major general in command of the Army of the James; a close friend of Grant's.

 

DAVID DIXON PORTER

One of the US Navy's leading admirals.

 

HENRY J. RAYMOND

Founder, publisher, and editor of the
New York Times;
chairman of the Republican National Committee, a leader of its moderate wing, a loyal Lincoln supporter.

 

WILLIAM H. SEWARD

Lincoln's Secretary of State and closest adviser; former governor of New York, US senator, and presidential hopeful; a participant in the Hampton Roads Peace Conference.

 

WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN

Major general in command of the Union's western armies; pioneer in the art of scorched-earth warfare.

 

JAMES L. SINGLETON

Copperhead friend of Lincoln's, who endorsed his entrepreneurial buying trips to Richmond and exploited his ability to gain access to its leaders.

 

EDWIN M. STANTON

Lincoln's remorseless Secretary of War; an old-time Democrat and a native of Ohio.

 

THADDEUS STEVENS

Radical Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, the aging but powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; a longtime scourge of the South.

 

CHARLES SUMNER

Radical Republican senator from Massachusetts, a leading abolitionist, beaten with a cane on the Senate floor by a South Carolina congressman in 1856; Lincoln's frequent critic.

 

THURLOW WEED

Seward's political mastermind, an Albany-based editor and Republican Party boss.

 

GODFREY WEITZEL

Young major general in command of the occupation of Richmond after its fall.

 

GIDEON WELLES

Lincoln's avuncular Secretary of the Navy; a Blair ally and a Seward rival.

 

FERNANDO WOOD

A former mayor of New York, now a pro-Southern peace Democrat in Congress.

 

 

Southerners

 

JUDAH BENJAMIN

Jefferson Davis's Secretary of State and closest adviser.

 

JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE

Former vice president of the United States, close to the Blairs, a Confederate major general, then Confederate Secretary of War.

 

JOHN A. CAMPBELL

The Confederacy's Assistant Secretary of War; a former justice of the United States Supreme Court; a member of the Confederate peace commission at Hampton Roads.

 

ARTHUR S. COLYAR

A Confederate congressman from Tennessee, a fierce Davis critic, a Unionist before the war; an early advocate of peace negotiations.

 

JEFFERSON DAVIS

President and commander in chief of the Confederate States of America.

 

VARINA DAVIS

The wife of Jefferson Davis.

 

HENRY S. FOOTE

A volatile Confederate congressman, former governor of Mississippi, and former US senator; Jefferson Davis's career-long nemesis; a leader of the Southern peace movement.

 

JOSIAH GORGAS

The Confederacy's Richmond-based, Pennsylvania-born Chief of Ordnance.

 

WILLIAM A. GRAHAM

Moderate Confederate senator; former governor of North Carolina and former US senator.

 

WILLIAM HATCH

A Confederate lieutenant colonel and Assistant Commissioner of Exchange; the peace commissioners' aide.

 

BENJAMIN H. HILL

Confederate senator from Georgia; a Davis supporter and a longtime enemy of Alexander Stephens.

 

JOHN BELL HOOD

In reckless command of the Army of Tennessee after Davis relieved Joseph Johnston.

 

ROBERT M. T. HUNTER

President pro tempore of the Confederate Senate; a former US senator and Speaker of the House; a member of the Confederate peace commission at Hampton Roads.

 

JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON

One of the South's most capable generals and one of Davis's longtime detractors, in command of the Army of Tennessee before and after Davis consigned it to Hood.

 

JOHN B. JONES

A clerk in the Confederate War Department, subordinate to Robert G. H. Kean.

 

ROBERT G. H. KEAN

Head of the Confederate Bureau of War, reporting to his friend, John Campbell.

 

ROBERT E. LEE

In command of the Army of Northern Virginia; later appointed General in Chief.

 

JAMES LONGSTREET

A prominent general in the Confederate Army, one of Lee's most senior subordinates.

 

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS MYERS

Richmond lawyer and city councilman; a leader of the city's Jewish community.

 

JAMES L. ORR

Confederate senator from South Carolina; a Davis critic and an advocate of peace talks; a former Speaker of the House in Washington.

 

JOHN A. ORR

Confederate congressman from Mississippi; a peace movement leader.

 

ROBERT OULD

The Confederate Commissioner of Exchange, in charge of exchanging prisoners of war.

 

EDWARD POLLARD

An editor of the
Richmond Enquirer;
a relentless critic of the Davis administration.

 

ROGER A. PRYOR

Former editor and US congressman from Virginia; now a prisoner of war.

 

SARAH RICE PRYOR

A Petersburg, Virginia, memoirist; Roger Pryor's wife.

 

WILLIAM CABELL RIVES

A Confederate congressman from Virginia; one of the South's elder statesmen.

 

JAMES A. SEDDON

Davis's Secretary of War until November 1864; a former US congressman.

 

ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS

Jefferson Davis's vice president and perennial critic; a member of the Confederate peace commission at Hampton Roads; a former US congressman from Georgia.

 

JOHN L. STEPHENS

Nephew of Alexander Stephens; a Confederate Army lieutenant and a prisoner of war.

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