46 given the context of previous contacts between the

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46 Given the context of previous contacts between the federal and Confederate governments, this letter could be read in at least two ways. Lincoln might have been trying to get Davis himself to give the President of the United States a decisive refusal to rejoin the Union under any and all conditions. Such a response would reveal once and for all the futility of hope for an end to the fighting, short of victory. On the other hand, Lincoln s double prodding B If it is not accepted, ^ B If the presentation of any terms embracing the restoration of the Union be declined, ^ then what terms B would be accepted? ^ gives the impression of a sense of eagerness, if not desperation, to end the war. After Lincoln s B strong ^ cab- inet members (William Seward, Edwin Stanton, and William Fessenden) read his letter, they advised him against allowing Raymond to go to Richmond. Better to lose the election, they said, than to put oneself in the pathetic position of seeking a peace while military victory was so uncertain and the army was taking such heavy casualties. 47 Two peculiarities about this advice warrant attention. First, the cabinet members with whom Lincoln shared his instruc- tions were B strong ^ in the sense of being ardently anti- slavery a selective choice of advisors reminiscent of his ask- ing Frederick Douglass to read the Robinson letter. Lincoln seemed to be looking for endorsements of an option he fa- vored. Second, the president could have simply removed the controversial and unnecessarily B pathetic ^ lines suggestive of desperation, leaving the first three sentences as they were. Why he did not do so is unknown. Instead, Lincoln placed this letter, too, in his unsent file and told Raymond to call off the affair a decision with which Raymond, according to wit- ness John Hay, inexplicably agreed. 48 On the surface, Lincoln and his advisors, including Raymond, concurred on the nature of the dilemma: how to conduct a seemingly hopeless election honorably. The decision against sending Raymond to Richmond, however, was less significant than the terms in which the choice was posed. Raymond would not have urged Lincoln to approach Davis in the first place if not for fear of losing the election. Thinking again about his letter to Charles Robinson going public, Lincoln had reason to fear that Jefferson Davis would forward a copy of his peace proposal to the press, causing Lincoln to lose more anti-slavery votes than he would gain in Democratic votes. Perhaps this is the objection with which Raymond concurred. As Lincoln wrote his letter, moreover, he held but did not ex- press to others a belief in a chance of winning reelection after all. Perhaps Lincoln s advisors also sensed this chance. Ambiv- alence might have been felt by all participants in this episode.

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