THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 1865 (Journal of the Confederate Congress, Vol. 7, p. 451)

(Secret session)

Mr. [Jehu A.] Orr, by consent, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, reported the following resolutions:

(1) Resolved, That the independence of the Confederate States of America, based upon the constitutional compact between the sovereign States composing the Confederacy and maintained through nearly four years of gigantic war, justly claims from their former associates and from the world its recognition as a rightful fact.

(2) Resolved, That we hail with gratification the just and sound sentiment manifested by a large portion of the people of the United States since the last session of our Congress, that all associations of these American States ought to be voluntary and not forcible, and we give a hearty response to their views and wishes for a suspension of the present conflict of arms, and an appeal to the forum of reason, to see if the matters in controversy can not be properly and justly adjusted by negotiation without the further effusion of blood.

(3) Resolved, That being wedded to no particular or exclusive mode of initiating or inaugurating negotiations looking to a peaceful settlement and adjustment of the questions now in issue between the United States and the Confederate States, it is the judgment of this House that if it should be more agreeable to the Government and people of the United States, or even a large and respectable portion of them, that the question should be submitted to the consideration of commissioners from each State, one or more, in the character of a convention of all the States, than to plenipotentiaries appointed in the usual way, then such a plan of initiating negotiations should be acceded to, or proposed on our side, such convention being acceded to or proposed as an advisory body only, the commissioners or delegates to it, being authorized by the treaty-making power of each Government, respectively, not to form any agreement or compact between States, but simply to confer, consult, and after freely entertaining and hearing all propositions and suggestions, to agree, if possible, upon some plan of peace, to be proposed by them to their respective Governments. The mode of inaugurating negotiations, in the opinion of this House, would be relieved of all possible constitutional objections by the consent of the proper constitutional authorities of the two Governments. With such consent the proposed delegates would but act, in any view of the subject, as commissioners appointed in any other way, to negotiate for peace, and whatever they might agree upon or propose would be subject to the approval or disapproval of the two Governments, respectively.

(4) Resolved Inasmuch as the authorities at Washington have heretofore rejected all formal offers for a free interchange of views looking to negotiations made by our authorities, and as we deem it a high duty not only to our gallant citizen soldiers in the field, but to the whole body of our people, as well as our duty to the cause of humanity, civilization, and Christianity, that the chosen representatives of the people of the several States of the Confederacy upon this floor should omit or neglect no effort in our power to bring about negotiations, if possible: Therefore,

(5) Be it further resolved, That the President of the Confederate States be informed of these resolves, and that he be requested to grant permission to three persons to be selected by this House (the members from each State voting in such selection by States, and a majority of all the votes being necessary to a choice in each case) to cross our lines, who shall immediately proceed to ask, and obtain, if possible, an informal interview or conference with the authorities at Washington, or any person or persons who may be appointed by them to meet the persons so sent on our side, to see if any such plan of inaugurating negotiations for peace, upon the basis above set forth, can be agreed upon; and if not, to ascertain any other or what terms, if any, of a peaceful settlement may be proposed by the authorities at Washington; and the said commissioners shall be authorized to bring into view the possibility of cooperation between the Confederate and United States in maintaining the principles and policy of the Monroe doctrine in the event of a prompt recognition of the independence of the former by the Government of the latter, and to report the result of their efforts and action to the President and to this House; and should this effort fail, we shall have the consolation of knowing that we, in our high and responsible trust, have done our duty. We shall have given assurance to our people that we have done all that we, in our position and capacity, can do to end the strife upon just and honorable principles, and the rejection of the overture by the President of the United States will afford additional evidence to the people of these States that he is waging this unnatural war not for peace or the good of his country, but for the purposes of the most unholy ambition, while it will demonstrate to our people that his object as to them is nothing short of an unconditional subjugation or extinction.

Mr. Orr moved that the resolutions be postponed until Saturday next, made the special order for that day at 12 o’clock, and printed.

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