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Hampton Roads Peace Conference

Francis P. Blair, one of Lincoln’s advisors, helped to arrange a peace conference in early 1865. Representing the Confederacy were Robert M.T. Hunter, John A. Campbell and Vice President Alexander H. Stephens. President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward represented the United States. The meeting was held aboard the River Queen, a Union transport ship anchored off Hampton Roads, Virginia. A veiled suggestion from Blair for an armistice during which Confederate troops could be sent in secret to Mexico to support the nationalist movement was rejected by Lincoln. Lincoln’s position was clear from the beginning. He required the following:

  • An immediate end to the fighting and the disbandment of Confederate forces
  • Southern recognition of the emancipation of the slaves
  • Dissolution of the Confederacy and return to the Union by all seceded states.
The President was prepared to consider some form of compensation for slaveowners and generous treatment of Confederate officials, despite the disapproval of his advisors. The Southern delegates were prepared to discuss only the recognition of an independent Confederate States of America by the United States. They felt that Lincoln’s proposals were humiliating and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference broke up after four hours.