Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Godfrey Weitzel [2]

``Cypher'' Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
Major General Weitzel War Department,
Richmond, Va Washington, D.C., April 12. 1865

I have just seen Judge Campbell's letter to you of the 7th. He assumes as appears to me that I have called the insurgent Legislature of Virginia together, as the rightful Legislature of the State, to settle all differences with the United States. I have done no such thing. I spoke of them not as a Legislature, but as ``the gentlemen who have acted as the Legislature of Virginia in supportPage  407 of the rebellion.'' I did this on purpose to exclude the assumption that I was recognizing them as a rightful body. I dealt with them as men having power de facto to do a specific thing, towit, ``to withdraw the Virginia troops, and other support from resistance to the General Government,'' for which in the paper handed Judge Campbell I promised a specific equivalent, to wit, a remission to the people of the State, except in certain cases, the confiscation of their property. I meant this and no more. In as much however as Judge Campbell misconstrues this, and is still pressing for an armistice, contrary to the explicit statement of the paper I gave him; and particularly as Gen. Grant has since captured the Virginia troops, so that giving a consideration for their withdrawal is no longer applicable, let my letter to you, and the paper to Judge Campbell both be withdrawn or, counter-manded, and he be notified of it. Do not now allow them to assemble; but if any have come, allow them safe-return to their homes. A. LINCOLN

Annotation

[1]   ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 386-87. The time of this telegram is marked by the clerk as 6 P.M. See Lincoln's memorandum to Campbell, April 5, and communications to Grant and to Weitzel, April 6, supra. On April 7, Judge Campbell wrote Weitzel:

``The events of the war have placed under the military control of the United States the natural and artificial channels of communication of the Confederate States, their emporiums of commerce and intercourse, and all the places that have any special importance in a military point of view. The armies of the Confederacy are diminished in point of numbers, and debilitated from the want of adequate equipments, transportation, and supplies. The spirit of the people is not broken and the resources of the country allow of a prolonged and embarrassing resistance. Humanity as well as patriotism requires that such a contest, which must be in the end fruitless, should be averted. To do this is the province of enlarged and [wise] statesmanship. The obstacles to an immediate accommodation arise [from the] condition of the Confederate Government and nature of the questions involved [in] the war. The Confederate Government has made no provision [for] the possibility of its failure. Its functionaries don't understand how [they] can negotiate for the subversion or overthrow of their [Government]. All the powers of negotiation are in the hands of the [President], and he is not willing to employ them for such [a] result. The affections and hopes of the people are concentrated [in] the Army, and it will be difficult to bring them [to] take action without the co-operation and counsel of their [brethren] of the army. Thus while reflecting persons are convinced that the [cause] of the Confederate States can't be achieved, and they are predisposed [to] an adjustment, there is a great difficulty in obtaining an [acknowledgment] of this conviction from a legally constituted authority. I [think] that an armistice would obviate much of this difficulty, nor [do] I believe that there would be any danger of a [delay] in securing peace by this temporary cessation of hostilities. The [disbanding] of the armies would be the probable, I may say the [certain], result of such a measure.

``The legislature of Virginia [will or should] be immediately convened. The legislature of South Carolina will meet according [to] adjournment in May.

``The President of the United States in his memorandum left with [me] states three indispensable conditions to peace, which when examined are [all] includedPage  408 in the single one of the restoration of the Union by [the] consent of the seceding States. If his proclamations upon the subject of slavery have the force of law I suppose that it became operative when it was issued, and that rights were vested under it. I do not presume that his revocation of that proclamation could destroy the rights thus acquired.

``The acceptance of the Union involves acceptance of his proclamation, if it be valid as a law. In Virginia the question of limits is one of great concern and interest, and in both States the averages of taxes, the confiscation acts, the bills of pains and penalties, the oaths of allegiance, the right to representation in Congress, and the condition of the slave population, are subjects of importance. I do not very well see how these matters can be adjusted without a very grave, important, and patient inquiry between the parties; that is, the United States and the authorities of the States. I have stated that the regular session of the legislature of South Carolina will be held in May. I would recommend that all the facilities offered in Virginia to the assembling of their legislature be extended to that State, and that it be invited to send commissioners to adjust the questions that are supposed to require adjustment.

``I have made a statement of the practical difficulties that exist in order to encourage you to persevere in the course of patience, moderation, forbearance, and conciliation that has marked your conduct since you entered Richmond. Many of the difficulties will be removed or lessened by such a course, and I do not know of any that will not be aggravated by the adoption of the opposite.'' (OR, I, XLVI, III, 657. Brackets are in the source.)