Lincoln Stories Tersely Told
by J. E.
Pub. in 1898
The Proposed Purchase Of The Slaves.
The discussion on the question of whether or not Abraham Lincoln suggested at the conference with the southern commissioners at the so-called Fortress Monroe meeting, that he was prepared to pay $400,000,000 for the slaves in the Southern States provided peace with union could be obtained, is hardly likely to lead to any definite conclusion, for the reason that the few who should have known definitely about it are distinctly divided in their opinions. We are inclined to believe that, if the proposition was made, Mr. Lincoln, notwithstanding the immense influence that he then possessed, would have found it exceedingly difficult to convince Congress and a majority of the people of the North of the wisdom of the suggestion. As a business proposition, entirely apart from sentiment, it might have been, even at that late day, a wise plan to adopt. But the war had then been going on for years, and the hard feelings engendered would apparently have made the scheme a less tenable one then than at an earlier day. It will, we imagine, appear to future historians that, in spite of the example which had been set by England in the West Indies, those representing both the North and the South showed themselves, just prior to the war, wanting in the true elements of statesmanship in not realizing that it was better to peaceably adjust their differences that have recourse to physical force. It is now well understood, and might have been well understood at the time, that the main issue was the slave issue, and that, once out of the way, all other sources of division were insignificant. We could have well afforded to vote, if need be, several thousands of millions of dollars to purchase the freedom of the slaves if by that means the civil war with all of its wastes and sufferings could have been avoided; and if not now, a generation or two hence, we feel convinced that the people, both of the North and the South, will be of the opinion that such an outcome of the contention would have been possible if we had had on both sides of the quarrel statesmen of the caliber of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, John Quincy Adams and other eminent Americans who have made their mark in our national history.