The Hampton Roads Conference: The Southern View



The most famous and important meeting of the War Between the States took place in Virginia aboard the U.S.S. River Queen on February 3, 1865. Yet it receives barely a mention in our mainstream history books, except to say that “it was a futile effort that achieved nothing.” Known as the Hampton Roads Conference, in attendance on one side of the table were the Confederates: Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell and Sen. Robert M.T. Hunter. On the other side were President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward. According to conventional history, the meeting opened with a “frank, honest, and kind-hearted Lincoln” offering generous promises to the “erring South,” including $400 million in compensation for her slaves upon emancipation— if only the seceded states would return to the Union, “our one common country.”

The Confederate commissioners, however, viewed the meeting as a negotiation between “our two countries,” demanding that the North recognize the independence of the Southern states. Lincoln refused to budge and demanded the C.S.A.’s complete surrender. Four hours later the meeting adjourned in a stalemate. Conventional sources tell us Lincoln bent over backwards to accommodate the South, and that the conference only failed due to the stubbornness of Jefferson Davis. Is that true? Historian Lochlainn Seabrook has included 32 essays, articles and analyses that set the record straight on the myths surrounding the final meeting in which the two opposing sides would meet face-to-face. Seabrook includes illustrations, a descriptive introduction, complete source notes, a detailed index, a comprehensive bibliography, and helpful appendices. —— The Hampton Roads Conference (softcover, 294 pages, #1024)