Frank Williams: Why did the Peace Conference fail in its mission?
Chairman of The Lincoln Forum
The Peace Conference was doomed to fail from the beginning for several reasons. First, not all states sent delegates - only 21 with seven states meeting in Montgomery about the same time to establish the Confederate States of America.; second, only some of the delegates took their charge seriously - as many were sent (Northern and Southern) intent on insuring there would be no compromise; third, even the Northern delegations were divided among themselves with conservatives led by Senator William H. Seward seeking accommodation or delay to save the border states for the Union and Senator Salmon P. Chase who did not wish to relinquish any ground secured by the Republican Party victory - thus there could be no extension of slavery any where, but no interference where it existed.
The absence of 13 states was too great a handicap; there was only a thin moral majority and the conflicts between the radicals of North and South was too great to overcome.
All that was to come from the Convention was support for a new Constitutional amendment forever protecting slavery in the states and the District of Columbia from Congressional interference. Republicans and Abraham Lincoln who were willing to accept this as the party platform had disclaimed any right of interference and the President-elect repeatedly stated he had no objection to it. This would become the proposed Thirteenth Amendment sent to the states in 1861.
Our panel responds to the question: Why did the Peace Conference in Washington fail in its mission?
| January 31, 2011; 9:38 AM ET
Categories: Views | Tags: Frank Williams
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