The Peace Conference Is Organized
Due to the hardships mentioned in the previous section, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was under some pressure from the people of the Confederate States to strive for peace. Though the likelihood of a successful peace agreement was slim, it would have been detrimental to his popularity and support to appear as if he was unwilling to make an attempt for peace (Jones 169).
On the Union side, President Lincoln was willing to make peace, though under certain strict concessions. Francis P. Blair, one of Lincoln's wartime advisors, had been a strong advocate of a peace agreement, proposing in 1864 that the United States and the Confederacy join forces in an effort oust French troops from Mexico. Such a union, he believed, would cause the two sides to quit fighting each other, pull together, and through a joint cause, find a way to work through their differences. Though Lincoln would not lend his official support to this effort, he did put forth his willingness to talk to Confederate leaders (Schott 502).
Both sides eventually agreed to conduct peace talks, though it is likely that neither group was expecting any type of resolution. Through the anticipated failure of the sanctions, Davis hoped the outcome would silence those in the Confederacy pressuring him to make peace (Schott 502), perhaps even re-igniting the spark that the Confederate army had at the onset of the war.
It was agreed, then, that leaders from both sides would meet at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on February 3, 1865, aboard the Union steamship River Queen. Those in attendance were, from the Union, President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward, as well as Confederate representatives A. H. Stephens (Vice-President of the Confederate States), Judge John A. Campbell (Assistant Secretary of War), and Senator R. M. T. Hunter (Jones 170).
William H. Seward* Alexander H. Stephens**
See Lincoln's report to the House of Representatives
Stephen's report to Davis concerning the conference.
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**Photo taken from <http://www.treasurenet.com/images/civilwar/civil022.shtml>