Peace Talks: Review Background Information

Battlefield setbacks are agitating the people. The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor. The losses are staggering. General Grant’s army is stalled on the outskirts of Petersburg. Cries for peace talks to end the war are mounting and it’s not just the usual Democrats howling for peace. Even Horace Greeley, the anti-slavery newspaper editor, and other members of my own Republican Party are urging a deal with Jefferson Davis that would re-unite the country, even if it means going back to slavery after the war. As recently as July 18, I have made my preconditions for peace talks perfectly clear: Union and an end to slavery. But perhaps I should re-consider. The war has ground on for more than three years now, longer than anyone expected. The people are weary. They dread a future stained with more rivers of blood. I am weary. There is a tired spot within me that nothing can touch. Unless some great change takes place I know I might be beaten badly when I face the voters in November. Perhaps I should agree to talks without any preconditions. What should I do?

Name of Person 1

Henry J. Raymond
(1820-1869)

Editor and owner of the New York Times, Chairman of Republican National Committee’s Executive Committee. A Lincoln supporter and close friend of William Seward and Thurlow Weed, Raymond backed Seward for president in 1860. However, he helped engineer Lincoln’s renomination in 1864, and was primarily responsible for drafting the Union Party’s platform.

Name of Person 1

Frederick Douglass
(1817-1895)

A former slave and leader of the abolitionist movement. Through his speeches and published writings, he was a strong advocate for any serious emancipation efforts. During the war, he also played an important role in recruiting black soldiers to fight in the Union army. Later, Douglass would emerge as perhaps the nineteenth century’s most eloquent advocate for civil rights.

Negotiate For Peace

Only sending a peace commission to Richmond instructed to negotiate for reunion without emancipation will convince Northern voters that the Administration is not deliberately prolonging the war in order to secure abolition. The Rebels won’t accept anyway, leaving us in a stronger position politically.

Stand by Emancipation

Any backtracking at all from your previously courageous position on peace talks would be considered “a complete surrender of your anti-slavery policy, and do you serious damage.”

So those are my choices: Abandon emancipation and at least try to negotiate for peace, or stand by reunion and emancipation as non-negotiable demands to end the war. What do you think I should do?