Discuss 1860 Peace Commissioners.

jgoodguy

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Lets discuss the 1860 Peace Commissioners. We see them get mentioned like this.

You seem to have forgotten the peace Commissioners the Confederacy sent and was rejected? This does away with this post about wanting war. Besides that, Lincoln wanted those "impost" (money) that the Union was not going to get. He was the one that really wanted the war so he was the cause of it.
As if the Southerner Commissioner were all sweetness and light interested in only peace light like
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Then someone just has to interrupt this pretty picture.
And the reason that the so called "peace commissioners" were rejected/not recognized? Because they were there to maneuver/trick/intimidate the Lincoln Administration into accepting Southern independence and thus receive foreign recognition. Their presence was also used as a tactic to delay any--unlikely at that point-- rash response from the North to give the Confederates more time to prepare for the possibility of war. From the link below that provides a brief overview:

The commissioners were never formally received by the Lincoln administration. Using intermediaries, they communicated indirectly with Lincoln's secretary of state, William H. Seward. These negotiations, which continued until April 8, were complicated and confusing as each side sought its own advantage.

The three commissioners wanted recognition for the Confederacy and the transfer of federal forts and other property. They believed the Lincoln administration, and especially Seward, were committed to avoiding war, and would, therefore, yield to their demands. However, if pressure and threats did not gain the forts, the commissioners were prepared to back away from a confrontation in order to buy time. Delay would allow the Confederacy to consolidate its political and military position. The Confederacy could then resort to force. In either case, the commissioners assumed that the Confederacy's permanent existence was an established fact.

Seward also sought to avoid a confrontation over the forts. He wanted to give Unionist elements in the seceded states time to rally, and to keep the upper South in the Union. On a number of occasions, Seward gave assurances to the commissioners, via intermediaries, that Sumter would be abandoned. Seward's statements increasingly reflected his own hopes for a peaceable, voluntary reconstruction of the Union, rather than Lincoln's policy.

https://www.tulane.edu/~sumter/Dilemmas/DFeb27S_BComm.html
Let us discuss.
 
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The Southern Commissioners never offered to compromise on secession, and Lincoln never implied that he would be open to accepting it. By the time Lincoln took office in March 1861, the nascent Confederacy was using the negotiation tactic to buy time in hopes that the upper Southern states would secede.
During December 1860, President Buchanan had responded to a negotiation offer by South Carolina Governor Pickens. Buchanan was very clear that as the executive branch of the government, he had no constitutional authority to acknowledge secession or negotiate over Federal property and that it was the Congress who was empowered to negotiate. Buchanan's Secretary of War, Joseph Holt, reiterated the exact same position again in February 1861 in a letter to South Carolina's Attorney General, Isaac Hayne and ended his letter with a mild rebuke to both Hayne and the governor:

"His excellency the governor is too familiar with the Constitution of the United States, and with the limitations upon the powers of the Chief Magistrate of the Government it has established, not to appreciate at once the soundness of this legal proposition."

And Attorney General Holt was correct. Pickens as well as Jefferson Davis and everyone else knew that sending commissioners to "negotiate" with the president or his subordinates in the executive branch was a waste of time. The southern leaders did not want to negotiate...they were stalling for time.
 

Freddy

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Are you referring to the February 1861 Peace Commissioners? If so, Lincoln was still the President Elect when it began. The South was asking for recognition of the Confederacy. Lincoln would not let that happen.
 
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Benjamin Butler went to Attorney-General Black upon finding out that the Southern commissioners were planning on presenting South Carolina's Secession Ordinance in person to President Buchanan and offered a scenario in which the commissioners would be arrested for treason which in turn would force the court to rule whether secession was legal or not. The AG agreed with Butler's proposal and sent him on to Buchanan with the proposal
but Buchanan refused to act:

Mr. Black advised me to put my views before the President, and I went to him immediately and made an arrangement for an interview for that purpose, at which I laid the matter before him substantially in the same form that I had stated it to the attorney-general. Mr. Buchanan was a quiet old gentleman and had been for many years a trained politician, but to say that he was astounded at the boldness of the proposition would be but a feeble description of his condition of mind and body. He said in substance: 'These men claim to be ambassadors, and though we cannot admit the claim, still, they have voluntarily placed themselves within our power, and seem to have a kind of right to be at least warned away before we can honorably treat them as criminals or enemies.'

To this I replied that my object was to have it judicially ascertained which they were. That they had committed an act of treason voluntarily, was certainly no ground for permitting them to escape, and if they had not committed treason, they were clearly ambassadors, and the State from which they came could require the United States to indemnify them for all they had suffered.

Of course it was impossible for a man of Mr. Buchanan's temperament and training, however honest and conscientious, to adopt so decisive a course. He thought it would lead to great agitation. I thought it would stop agitation until the question was determined, and whichever way determined it would prevent unauthorized action being taken. For, if the commissioners were acquitted on the ground that they were ambassadors from a sovereign power, then there was nothing to be done except to treat other secession commissioners accordingly."
Autobiography And Personal Reminiscences Of Major-General Benjamin F Butler, pp. 155-156.
 

OpnCoronet

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Joseph Holt, reiterated the exact same position again in February 1861 in a letter to South Carolina's Attorney General, Isaac Hayne and ended his letter with a mild rebuke to both Hayne and the governor:
"His excellency the governor is too familiar with the Constitution of the United States, and with the limitations upon the powers of the Chief Magistrate of the Government it has established, not to appreciate at once the soundness of this legal proposition."
And Attorney General Holt was correct. Pickens as well as Jefferson Davis and everyone else knew that sending commissioners to "negotiate" with the president or his subordinates in the executive branch was a waste of time. The southern leaders did not want to negotiate...they were stalling for time.


Very true and, assuming Davis was not an idiot, one has to question his motives for sending such a mission in the first place.

Did Davis have an ulterior motive, in which peace, was not the main component?

It was(and is) common practice to accuse someone of wanting to do what one is wanting to do, and claiming it was done in the name of Peace.
 

5fish

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They came with an olive branch...

Commissioners to Secretary Seward March 12, 1861
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_c031261.asp
From your link.. It seems the CS was willing to negotiate on any and all topic

With a view to a speedy adjustment of all questions growing out of this political separation, upon such terms of amity and good will as the respective interests, geographical contiguity, and future welfare of the two nations may render necessary, the undersigned are instructed to make to the Government of the United States overtures for the opening of negotiations, assuring the Government of the United States that the President, Congress, and people of the Confederate States earnestly desire a peaceful solution of these great questions; that it is neither their interest nor their wish to make any demand which is not founded in strictest justice, nor do any act to injure their late confederates.


.....

and with them to agree, treat, consult, and negotiate of and concerning all matters and subjects interesting to both nations, and to conclude and sign a treaty or treaties, convention or conventions, touching the premises,

In Jeff Davis letter, he to wanted them to negotiate any and all things...

It seems the CS government came bearing an olive branch and Lincoln ignore it, then instigated a war with them... The CS comes off badly in history but they tried to do the right thing at first.
 

matthew mckeon

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Recognition and legitimacy may have been job one but everything seems to be on the table...
If secession isn't on the table, what's the point of any other discussion?

If the slave states were serious about peaceful negotiations, or settling differences or concerns they had that the election of a Republican would threaten the sacred institution of slavery, then they should have send a commission before secession, not after.
 

matthew mckeon

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Let's use an analogue, although they are terrible, false things.

After the fighting at Lexington and Concord, the Congress submitted the Olive Branch Petition, an offer to negotiate a solution to the crisis. The Americans doubtlessly wanted to win those negotiations and establish a more independent place, but within the British Empire and still loyal to the crown.

The Confederate Commissioners were if we wanted to negotiate with the British after the Declaration of Independence.
 

KeyserSoze

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In Jeff Davis letter, he to wanted them to negotiate any and all things...
Only if it was a matter and subject interesting to both sides. If it wasn't of interest to the Confederacy then it wasn't a topic of conversation.

It seems the CS government came bearing an olive branch and Lincoln ignore it, then instigated a war with them... The CS comes off badly in history but they tried to do the right thing at first.
The rebel delegation came with a demand for Lincoln's surrender to their demands. There is no olive branch in that.
 

matthew mckeon

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I'm not faulting Davis and his government for trying, but it wasn't negotiations, it was war by other means by this point.
 

matthew mckeon

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Davis's letter actually says that the discussion has to be limited to issues arising from the "separation" of the two sections. Secession is off the table.
 

KeyserSoze

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Recognition and legitimacy may have been job one but everything seems to be on the table...
Having walked out of the Union, stolen every bit of property they could get their hands on, repudiated responsibility for debt and foreign obligations, what was left to go on the table?
 

atlantis

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Let's use an analogue, although they are terrible, false things.

After the fighting at Lexington and Concord, the Congress submitted the Olive Branch Petition, an offer to negotiate a solution to the crisis. The Americans doubtlessly wanted to win those negotiations and establish a more independent place, but within the British Empire and still loyal to the crown.

The Confederate Commissioners were if we wanted to negotiate with the British after the Declaration of Independence.
Matthew, the CSA was a sovereign union of states. Negotiate, the only thing to negotiate was transfer of property, debts. The commissioners came and acted in good faith.
 

KeyserSoze

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Matthew, the CSA was a sovereign union of states. Negotiate, the only thing to negotiate was transfer of property, debts. The commissioners came and acted in good faith.
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the Southern acts of secession were legitimate, then wouldn't a rebel offer to pay for property seized and debt repudiated be an admission that their acts of taking that property and repudiating that debt was wrong to begin with? And if they admit those actions were illegal then how can they say that their secession was legal as well?
 


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