Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 21, 1862 (Tuesday): Lincoln's North Carolina Gambit

Edward Stanly, Military Governor of North Carolina

Military Governor of North Carolina.
[Inclosure Numbers 1.] NEW BERNE, N. C., October 21, 1862.
Governor Z. B. VANCE:
    SIR: The strong affection which I have inherited and cherish for the people of my native State has induced me to come here, by request of the President of the United States.
    Nations, like individuals, sometimes quarrel because they misunderstand each other. This I think is now the case between the Government of the United States and the State of North Carolina.
I confidently believe I am in a situation to confer blessings upon the people of North Carolina if the Honorable gentlemen in high station who now control her affairs will give me their assistance.
If it is not incompatible with your views of duty, I earnestly solicity the favor of an interview with you at such time and place hereafter to be designated as may be agreeable to you.
    If the interview with yourself personally for any reason be declined, then I ask that one or more good citizens, natives of or residing in North Carolina, be authorized by you to confer with me.
My chief purpose is to see whether some measures cannot be adopted which may lead to an Honorable peace.
    If, unfortunately, this consummation so "devoutly wished" cannot be obtained, we may at all events do much to alleviate the inevitable sufferings that attend a war.
    Authority has been given me to negotiate for an exchange of political prisoners.
    I desire to do nothing in secret, will not stand upon any question of etiquette, wishing only to be instrumental in doing good to my country, and to that brave and noble hearted people who hitherto have conferred honor upon both of us, whose glory and welfare I am, as solicitous to protect as any other son of North Carolina can be. I hope to have an answer as soon as your convenience will allow. I beg leave to tender you the assurance of my best wishes for your happiness of our countrymen will hereafter bless the day on which the people of North Carolina elevated you to your present high position.
     have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c.


   [Inclosure Numbers 2.] STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Raleigh,    October 29, 1862.

Official Records, Series III., Vol. 2, Part 1, Page 846.

Edward Stanly was a career politician with a long history of serving in various legislatures in North Carolina and later California.  At the age of 62 he was appointed by Lincoln military governor of North Carolina with the largely honorary rank of Brigadier-General.  Stanly stated he wrote this letter to Governor Vance of North Carolina at Lincoln's behest.  But the request for a meeting was turned down by Vance as being incompatible with the Confederate constitution.  If Lincoln did, in fact, ask Stanly to negotiate a separate piece with North Carolina it was certainly an interesting strategy to subvert the rebellion by removing a state which provided so many troops, also isolating Virginia geographically from the rest of the Confederacy. 

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