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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

October 31, 1864

Stephens Letter in Response to Sherman Published

The Richmond Times Dispatch published Confederate Vice-President (and native Georgian) Alexander Stephens’ response to a messenger from Union General William T. Sherman, suggesting the two meet in Atlanta to discuss possible terms of peace.

Vice-President Stephens’s and Sherman’s Proposition to negotiate. The letter from Vice-President Stephens to William King, the messenger from General Sherman, with propositions to negotiate, is published. The invitation was for the Vice-President to meet the Yankee in Atlanta. After expressing his anxiety to promote the termination of this “fratracidal war,” Mr. Stephens says: ‘But, in the present instance, the entire absence of any power on my part to enter into such negotiations, and the like absence of any such power on his part, so far as appears from his message, necessarily precludes my acceptance of the invitation thus tendered. In communicating this to General Sherman, you may also say to him, that if he is of opinion that there is any prospect of our agreeing upon terms of adjustment, to be submitted to the action of our respective governments, even though he has no power to act in advance in the premises, and will make this known to me in some formal and authoritative manner, (being so desirous for peace himself as you represent him to have expressed himself,) I would most cheerfully and willingly, with the consent of our authorities, accede to his request thus manifested, and enter, with all the earnestness of my nature, upon the responsible and arduous task of restoring peace and harmony to the country upon of honor, right and justice to all parties. This does not seem to me to be at all impossible, if truth and reason should be permitted to have their full away.’ Yours, most respectfully, Alexander H. Stephens.