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

Page 420

  responsibility that was not clearly his, probably prevented him from urging his President to negotiate a peace; but, if the memories of private conversation may be believed, he had lost all hope of success. It was Jefferson Davis who in this matter imposed his will on all his subordinates and it was he more than anybody else who stood in the way of an attempt to secure favorable terms for the South in a reconstruction of the Union.  28   If Davis, Lee and the Confederate Congress could have made up their minds to sue for peace, the contemporaneous occurrences in Washington reveal the magnanimous spirit in which they would have been met by Abraham Lincoln.  29   Two days after the Hampton Roads Conference, on Sunday evening, February 5, the President called his Cabinet together to consult them in regard to a message he proposed to send recommending that Congress empower him to pay to the eleven slave States of the Southern Confederacy then in arms against the Union and to the five Union slave States four hundred million dollars as compensation for their slaves provided that all resistance to the national authority should cease on April first next. The Cabinet unanimously disapproved this project and Lincoln with a deep sigh said, “You are all opposed to me and I will not send the message.” Such a proposal to the Southern Confederacy, tottering to her fall, only sixty-three days before Lee’s surrender to Grant would have shown magnanimous foresight. Had the Confederate States accepted it, there would have been an immediate fraternal union after the Civil War. Had they rejected it, the President and Congress would have made a noble record. The offer, however, was too wise and too generous to be widely approved of men; Lincoln of all those in authority had reached a moral height where he must dwell alone and impotent. But when reflecting on the