James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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    During the year 1864 the enlistment of slaves began to be mooted; and, on January 11, 1865, this policy received the sanction of General Lee, who proposed immediate freedom to all who should enlist and at the same time recommended “a well-digested plan of gradual and general emancipation.” 1 Congress did not act promptly on Lee’s recommendation and, if there was any virtue in such a policy, it was now too late to avail anything. The enlistment of the slaves was strongly opposed and Howell Cobb, who at the commencement of the war owned a thousand negroes, argued against it with force. “The day you make soldiers of them” [the negroes], he wrote, “is the beginning of the end of the revolution. If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong.” 2 In truth it might have been asked, if we are voluntarily going to free our slaves, wherefore did we secede and go to war? But in January, 1865, nearly all Southerners, if asked, What are you fighting for? would have answered, For our independence and against subjugation.  24   Through the officious interference of Francis P. Blair, Sr., a conference was brought about between Lincoln and Seward on the one side and Vice-President Stephens, Judge Campbell and Senator Hunter on the other. Known as the Hampton Roads Conference, it took place on board a United States steamer anchored near Fort Monroe [February 3]. When personal courtesies had been passed and Whig memories revived between Lincoln and Stephens, Stephens asked, “Mr. President, is there no way of putting an end to the present trouble?” Lincoln replied in substance that “there is but one way I know of an that is for those who are resisting the laws of the Union to cease that resistance.… The restoration of the Union is a sine
Note 1. Jan. 11, O. R., IV, III, 1013. [back]
Note 2. Jan. 8, O. R., IV, III, 1009. [back]