Davis to Blair to Lincoln

There are many interesting documents in the Kuntz Louisiana Civil War Collection, which was purchased by Fondren Library from Civil War collector, Felix H. Kuntz, in 1967. One of the coolest items in the collection is a letter written to Francis Preston Blair Sr. in 1865.

F.P Blair, ca. 1865. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

F.P. Blair was deeply involved in national politics in the early to mid-19th century. Though a slave holder and member of the Democratic Party early on, he opposed the expansion of slavery and left the Democratic Party to help establish the Republican Party in 1854. 

Blair was a close advisor to President Lincoln during the Civil War but, as a native of Virginia, he was also close to many Confederate leaders, which made him ideal to be a go-between for both sides.

1st page of Jefferson Davis's letter.
From Jefferson Davis to Blair
Parts of two letters on same paper: one by Jefferson Davis and the other by Abraham Lincoln
The end of Davis’s letter and Lincoln’s response.

A letter written to Blair from Jefferson Davis on January 12, 1865, asked Blair to find out if Lincoln would be open to receiving a Confederate representative to discuss “a view to secure peace to the two countries.”

Letter written by Abraham Lincoln, January 18, 1865.
A closer view of Lincoln’s response.

Lincoln responded to Blair six days later, on the same paper, that he had always been open to receiving any representative “with the view of securing peace to the people of our common country.” 

It seems Davis was quite angry that Lincoln used the “our common country” thing.

After more negotiations, agents were selected to represent both sides and the Hampton Roads Conference occurred on February 3, 1865, in Virginia. Unfortunately, no peace deal came out of the conference. The war officially drug on – beyond General Lee’s surrender to General Grant at Appomattox April 9, 1865 – until August 1866 when President Johnson formally declared the war to be over.

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