46Given the context of previous contacts between the federaland Confederate governments, this letter could be read in atleast two ways. Lincoln might have been trying to get Davishimself to give the President of the United States a decisiverefusal to rejoin the Union under any and all conditions. Sucha response would reveal once and for all the futility of hope foran end to the fighting, short of victory. On the other hand,Lincoln’s double prodding—BIf it is not accepted,^BIf thepresentation of any terms embracing the restoration of theUnion be declined,^then what termsBwould beaccepted?^—gives the impression of a sense of eagerness, ifnot desperation, to end the war. After Lincoln’sBstrong^cab-inet members (William Seward, Edwin Stanton, and WilliamFessenden) read his letter, they advised him against allowingRaymond to go to Richmond. Better to lose the election, theysaid, than to put oneself in the pathetic position of seeking apeace while military victory was so uncertain and the armywas taking such heavy casualties.47Two peculiarities about this advice warrant attention. First,the cabinet members with whom Lincoln shared his instruc-tions wereBstrong^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. Lincolnseemed to be looking for endorsements of an option he fa-vored. Second, the president could have simply removed thecontroversial and unnecessarilyBpathetic^lines suggestive ofdesperation, leaving the first three sentences as they were.Why he did not do so is unknown. Instead, Lincoln placedthis letter, too, in his unsent file and told Raymond to call offthe affair–a decision with which Raymond, according to wit-ness John Hay, inexplicably agreed.48On the surface, Lincoln and his advisors, includingRaymond, concurred on the nature of the dilemma: how toconduct a seemingly hopeless election honorably. The decisionagainst sending Raymond to Richmond, however, was lesssignificant than the terms in which the choice was posed.Raymond would not have urged Lincoln to approach Davis inthe first place if not for fear of losing the election. Thinkingagain about his letter to Charles Robinson going public, Lincolnhad reason to fear that Jefferson Davis would forward a copy ofhis peace proposal to the press, causing Lincoln to lose moreanti-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 afterall. Perhaps Lincoln’s advisors also sensed this chance. Ambiv-alence might have been felt by all participants in this episode.