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The Hampton Roads Conference was an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate an end to the American Civil War. On February 3, 1865, near Fort Monroe in Newport News, Virginia, aboard a ship, the River Queen, President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward, representing the United States government, met with Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter, and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell, representing the Confederate States of America (CSA). At first, President Lincoln refused to take part in any such conference until it was agreed to beforehand that the Southern States abandon their attempt to secede from the Union. Meekly, but somewhat equivocally, the representatives of the CSA acceded to that demand.

Francis P. Blair had conceived that the war might be brought to a close and the two embattled areas of the nation reunited by directing the armies of both areas to attack Emperor Maximilian in Mexico. The enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine would be used to justify the attack on the French in Mexico. The possible absorption of Mexico by the United States was included in the plan.

The conference lasted for four hours, but no agreements were produced. President Lincoln dominated the proceedings. The three men who represented the Confederacy made little or no impression on those who represented the Union, and were not authorized to accept any offer, other than independence. The Confederate commissioners immediately returned to Richmond at the conclusion of the conference. The war was to continue.

Lincoln's Position[]

President Lincoln's positions were these:

  • He disapproved of the joint attack on the French in Mexico.
  • He wished for "the voluntary abolition of slavery by the States."
  • He refused to consent to any treaty with the Confederate government.
  • After their surrender, he was in favor of re-admitting representatives of the Southern States to Congress.
  • He favored the payment by the Federal Government of a fair indemnity to the former slaveholders.
  • He would not weaken the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • The complete restoration of the Union must be the final result of the war, or the war would continue to be fought.

A first hand account of President Lincoln's positions and of Confederate reaction was taken by Col. William Henry Hidell, Secretary to the Vice President (CSA).


es:Junta de Hampton Roads