The Hampton Roads Peace Conference aboard the River Queen January 29 1865. The North's second attempt to lure the South back into the Union at the expense of Slaves once again failed...
No “Official” version of the meeting was recorded by Lincoln’s secretary, but the Confederate delegation did record theirs for posterity and it was quite revealing indeed. Mr. Seward indicated that this was to be an informal conference with no writing or record to be made, all was to be verbal, and the Confederates agreed.
The story of the peace conference is related by vice-president of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens, in volume two of his work entitled A Constitutional View of the War Between the States: Its Causes, Character, Conduct and Results, at pages 589 through 625. This is obviously a view that the mainstream historians would not condone as “official” since it did not come from Lincoln’s mouth (when in fact it did).
(The subject of slavery then came up and Mr. Stephens asked President Lincoln what would be the status of the slave population in the Confederate states, and especially what affect the Emancipation Proclamation would have if the Confederates rejoined the Union. President Lincoln responded that the Proclamation was only a war measure and as soon as the war ceased, it would have no operation for the future. It was his opinion that the Courts would decide that the slaves who were emancipated under the Proclamation would remain free but those who were not emancipated during the war would remain in slavery.
Mr. Seward pointed out that only about two hundred thousand (200,000) slaves had come under the operation of the Proclamation and this would be a small number out of the total. Mr. Seward then brought up the point that several days before the meeting, there had been a proposed 13th constitutional amendment to cause the immediate abolition of slavery throughout the United States, but if the war were to cease and the Confederates rejoined the Union, they would have enough votes to kill the amendment. He stated that there would be thirty-six (36) states and ten (10) could defeat the amendment.
Remember President Lincoln, in his Inaugural Address before the war, gave his support to the first 13th amendment pending at that time which would have made slavery permanent and irrevocable.