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The Columbia daily phoenix. (Columbia, S.C.) 1865-1865, May 26, 1865, Image 1

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Daily Paper $L0 a Montbr) .' "Let oar just centre v J Tri-Woekly $10 a MOD th.
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General Leo's Views.
From the New York Herald of the
?29th ult., we extract the following in?
teresting account of an interview
between Gen. Robert E. Lee and a
Mr. Thomas M. Cook, the special cor?
respondent of the Herald:
In order, if possible, to get some
c'ear light for the solution of the new
complications growing out of the
murder of President Lincoln, I yester?
day sought and obtained an interview
with that distinguished soldier and
leader of the rebel army, Gen. Rnberl
E. Lee, and was permitted to draw
out his views on the very importan'
question suggested. It is proper t<
say that my reception was ever) tiling
that could be expected from n gentle
man who has always been consid?r?e
a type of the once famous chivalry
and, I had almost said, nobility o
Virginia. Pen and ink sketches o
Gen. Lee have been so numerously
made of late by newspaper writers
that any attempt at this time by nj
in that directiou, would be a work c
supererogation. I may simply say
that the finn step, the clear voice, th
bright, beaming countenance, th
quick intelligence, the upright fonr
aud the active manner of the Genera
very strongly belie the portraitures c
him wbich are so common. AM th
vigor, animation and ability of rip
raanhc.rid are prominently conspicuou
in his Lea ri ncr. His venerable" whit
hair and beard simply inspire respe<
for the mature ideas and delibera!
expressions that come from this coi
spicuotis rebel leader, but in no wis
convey an impression ot decay or o:
Il was-certainly embarrassing to m
on introducing the object of my visi
to say that I IM tended to lay his pi
lilical views before the public, as b
military career had already been. H
replv-'I am a paroled prisoner'
once appealed to my sympathy,
frank, generous man, ho*v far may
properly question him without touc
ing upoh his views of honor in reft
ence to his parole? But when I
added, 'I have never been a politicia
and know but little of political lendt
-I am a soldier'-felt easier. I $
sured him that I had nd desire
offend Iiis sensibility, or tempt him
violate any presumable oMigaii
under his parole; hut that, bei
prominently identified with the rob
lion, his views on the questions arisi
out of that rebellion would he of gr?
interest at tie present moment, a
doub'.less of great importance and i
?lueiiCe in the settlement of the tn
bles agitating the country, and w
this view only I called upon him.
replied, that the prominence he h
was unsought bv Himself ana* distas
ful to him. That he preferred rel:
ment and reclusion. But was rer
to mate any sacrifices or perform ii
bonorabie act that would lend to
restoration of peace and tranquility
the country.
The General's attention was direc
to his written and spoken de ter.mi
tion to draw his sword in defence o
o? his native State, and the inqi
was raised as to what he considi
the defence of Virginia, and vt
degree of deliberation he had give
that expression, lie stated that, ;
firm and honest believer in the <
trine of State rights, he had consich
Iiis allegiance due primarily to
State in which he was born, and wi
ho had alwavs reside^. And, altho
fee was not an advocate o? accessio
the outset, when Virginia seeeded he
honestly believed it his duty to abide
her fortune. He opposed secession to
the last, foreseeing the ruin it was
sure to entail. But when the Slate
withdrew from the Union he liad uo
recourse, in his views of honor ?nd
patriotism, but to abide her fortunes.
He went with her, intending to remain
merely a private citizen.
When he reigned his commission in
the United Slates army, he had no
intention of taking up arms in any
other?6ervice antagonistic to the United
States. His State, however, called for
him, and, entertaining the fixed prin?
ciples lie did of State sovereignty, he
had no alternative but to. accept the
service to which he was called. When
he made uee of the declarations that
have been so extensively quoted of late,
he had accepted only a commission
from Virginia. Subsequently, when
Virginia attached herself to the South?
ern Confederacy, the same political
impressions impelled him to follow her,
and when he accepted serviere under
the rebd Government, he did so on
the principle that he was defending
his native'State. And yet, by the
act of accepting such serviere, he was
bound in honor to serve in any part of
the Confederacy where he might be
called, without reference to tte lines;
and the reconciliation with his former
avowal, if any were necessary, were
found in the fact that Virginia, stand?
ing or falling with the other Southern
Slates, in defending them all lie was
defending the one to which he consiJs
cred hi* allegiance primarily due.
As to the effect of his surrender, he
was free to say it was a severe blow to
the South, hut not a crushing blow.
It was of military, not political signi?
ficance. 1 asked, was not thal surren?
der a virtual surrender of the doctrine
of State rights? By no means, lhe
General replied. When the South
shall be wholly subdued there will
then undeniably he a surrender of that
doctrine. But the surrender of a
single army is simply a military neces?
sity. The army of Northern Virginia
was surrendered because further re
sistance on its part would only entail
a useless sacrifice of life. But that
army was merely a part of the force
of the South. When the South shall
be forced to surrender ai; its forces and
return ?to- the Union, it. undisputably,
by that act., surrenders its favorite
doctrine of secession. That principle
will then be settled by military power.
On the question of State sovereignty
the General contends that there exists
a legitimate casus belli. In the con?
vention that formed the organic law of
the land, the question of defining the
relative powers of the States, and their
relation to the General Government,
was raised, but after much discussion
was dropped and left unsettled. It has
remaioed so unsettled until the present
time. This war is destined to set it
at rest. It was unfortunate that it was
not settled at the outset; but as it was
not settled then, and had to be settled
at some time, the war raised on this
issue cannot be considered treason. If
the South is forced to submission in
this contest, iL of course can only be
looked upon as the triumph of Fede?
ral power over S.ate rights, and the
for-'eci annihilation of the latter.
With relerence to the war in th?
abstract, the General declared it as his
honest belief that peace was practica?
ble two years ago, and has been prac
ticabie from that time to the present
dav, whenever the General Govern
meut should see fit to seek it, giving
any reasonable chance lor the counuj,
to escape the consequences which th?
exasperated North seemed d?termin?e
to impose. The S-iuth has, durim
tins time, been ready and anxious lo
pence. Tiicy have been looking fo
some wold or expressive of compro
miso or conciliation from the North
upon which they might base a returi
to the Uni?>n. They were not pre
pared, nor are they yet, to come am
beg for term*; but -wore ready t
accept any fair and honorable terms,
their own political views being consid?
ered. The question of slavery did not.
|ny in the way at all. The best men
of the South have long been anxious
to do away with this institution, and
wore quite willing to-day to see it I
They consider slavery forever dead.
Rut with them, in relation to this sub?
ject, the question has ever been, 'What
.will you do with the freed people?'
That is the serious question to-day,
and one that cannot be winked it. It
must be met practically and treated in?
telligently. The negroes must be
disposed of, and if their disposition
can be marked out, the matter of free*
ing them is at once settled. But
unless some humane courre is adopted,
based on wisdom and Christian prin?
ciples you do a gross wrong and in?
justice to the whole negro race(. in
setting ?hem free. And it is only this
consideration that has led the wisdom,
intelligence and Christianity of the
South to support and defend the insti?
tution up to this time.
The conversation then turned into
other channels, and finally tcuch?d
upon the prospect , for peace. And
here a veiy noticeable form of expres?
sion was used by the General. Tn
speaking of the probable course of the
Admitdstration towards the South, the
Gene.J.1 remarked that 'if we do' so
and so. I immediately called his at?
tention to the expression, and sought
an explanation of the sense in which
he used the pronoun 'we,-1 but obtained
none other than a marked repetition of
it. It was noticeable throughout the
entire interview that in no sinele in?
stance did he speak of the Southern
Confederacy, nor of the, Yankees nor
the rebjs. He frequently alluded to
the couotry, and expressed most earn?
estly hi? solicitude for its restoration
to peace arid tranquility, cautiously
avoiding any expression that would
imply the possibility of its disinte?
Throughout all the conversation,
he manifested an earnest desire that
such counsels should prevail and such
policies be pursued as would cominee
to au immediate peace, implying in
his remarks that peace was now at our
option. But he was particular to say
that, should arbitrary or vindictive or
revengeful policies be adopted, the end
was not yet. Thero yet remained a
great deal of vitality and strength,
which harsh measures on our part
would call into action; and that the
South could protract the. struggle for
an indefinite period. We might, it
was true, destroy all that remained of
the country East of the Mississippi
river by a lavish expenditure of men
and means; but then we would be re?
quired to fight on the other side of
that river, And, after subduing them
there, we would be compelled to follow
them into Mexico, and thus the strug?
gle would be prolonged until the
whole country would be impoverished
and ruined. And this we would be
compelled to do if extermination, cou
fi?cation. and general annihilation and
destruction are to be our policy. For
if a people are to be destroyed, they
will sell their lives as dearly as po3
The assassination of the President
was then spoken o?. The General
considtreJ this event in itself one of
the most deplorable that could have
occurred. Aa a crime it was unexam
pied and beyond execration. It was a
crime that no good man could approve
from any conceivable motive. Un?
doubtedly the effort would be made to
fasten the responsibility of it upon th?
South; but from his-intimate acquaint?
ance with the leading men of the
South, he was confident there was no!
one of them who would sanction 01
approve it.
The scheme was wholly unknown ir
tho South, before its execution, anc
would never hive received the slight
est encouragement had it been known
but, or. the contrary, the most ae7ert
execration. I called the Geu?ral's at- j
tention, at this1 point, lo a notice, that j
had been printed in- the Northern
papers, purporting to have been taken |
from a paper published in ibe,intdior j
South, proposing, for the sum of one
million dollars, to undertake the assas?
sination of the President and his
Cabinet. The General affirmed that
he had rever seen nor heard of such
a proposition, nor did he believe it had.
ever been printed in the South; though
if it had, it had been permitted merely
as the whim of sortie crazy person
that could possibly amount to nothing.
Such a crime was an anomaly in the
history of our country, and we had
yet to learn that it was possible of
either*" earnest conception or actual
It was a most* singular and remark?
able expression to escape the lips of
such a man as General .Lee, that 'the
South was never half in earnest in this
wai.' I cannot attempt to translate
this remark or elucidatc?it. Its utter?
ance conveyed to me the impression
that the South was most heartily sick
of war, and anxious to get back into
th-i Union and to peace. The General
added that they went off nfter political
leaders in a moment of passion and
und'^r the excitement of fancied wrongs,
honestly believing that they were en
tering a struggle for an inalienable,
right and ft fundamental principle of
their political creed. A man should
not be judged harshly for contending
for that which he honestly believes to
be right. Such was tbe position of the
vast majority of the people now". And
now that they are defeated, they con
sider that they have lost everything
that is worth contending for in the
Government. They have sacrificed
home, friends, property, health, all on
this issue. Men do rot make such
sacrifices for nothing. Thev have
made the sacrifice from honest con?
And now that thej have lost in the
i->sue they feel that they have no
interest left in this country. It is the
spinion of Gen. Lee that unless mode
'ation and liberality he exercised to
wards them, the country will lose its
bent people. Already, he says, they
ire seekhig to expatriate themselves,
md numerous s-hemes are started to
50 to Mexico, Brazil, Canada, France
>r elsewhere. He is called upon
Vequently to discountenance and sup?
press such undertakings. The country
leeds these young men. They are its
jone and sinew, its intelligence and
mterprise, its hope for the tuture, and
wisdom demands that no effort be
;pared to keep them in the country
md pacify them.
It was a most noticeable feature of
he conversation,that Gen. Lee, strange
LS may appear, talked throughout as
i citizen of the United ' States. He
teemed to plant himself on the na
ional platform, and take his coser?
vation* from that stand point. He an
.wered calmly and deliberately, earnest
y but with no show of interest, other
>r different from what might be
ixpected from au honest believer in
lis peculiar opinion?.
The conversation, which had been
jreatly protracted, so much so that I
>ecame uneasy for fear of trespassing
m time that I had no right to claim,
er ruinated with some allusions to the
erms of peace. Here there was,
lerhaps naturally and properly, more
.eticence that on any other topic. But
t was plain from what transpired that
he only question in the way of im
nediate peacq was the treatment to
>e accorded the vanquished. Every
hing else, by implication, seems to be
urrendered. Slavery, States rights,
he doctrine of sectisiion, and what
?ver eke of political policy may be
nvolved in the strife, i?i abandoned, the
>nly barrier to an immediate and
iniversal suspension of hostilities and
eturn toi the Union, being the treat
nent the national authorities may
promise those who have been resisting
ts power and paramount authority.
It is p'oper 'o s*v that th's wa* ne$
so stated bj Gen. L"'e. bat is snnp.y
ari inference from the conversationalist
took place on that topic On the
contrary, tho General seemed very
cautions in regard to term ?-. In order
to get at bis views, if possible, I sug?
gested the conservative sentiment of
the North, which proposed a general
amnesty to al! soldiers and military
officers, hut that the .political leaders
ol the South be heh) to a strict ac
;ountabi!ity. "Would that be just?
he asked. 'What has Mr. Davis don?
aiore than any other Southerner, that
de should be punished? It is true he
lias occupied a prominent position as the
sgent o? a whole people, but rhat made
bim no more nor less a rebel than tho
rest. His act; were the acts of the whole
people and the acts of the whoie peo?
ple were his acts. . He was not ac?
countable for the' commencement of
.he struggle. On the contrarv, he
was one of the last to give in his
idberence to the secession move?
ment, having strenuously oppored it;
rom the outset, and p .rayed its
?uinous consequences in his speeches
md by his writings. Whv, therefore,
diould he suffer morn ?han others?'
Df course it was not my province to
lisctiss these que*!.ious, and as thia il?
ustraron disclosed .he* bent of the
jleneral's mind, it was all that I de?
sired to know.
In taking leave of the General I
;ook occasion to say that he was greatly
espected hy a large body of good and
rue men at the North, and that as a
loldier he was universallv admired,
md that it was earnestly hoped tha?
?e would yet lead an army of United
>;ates troops in the enforcement of
he Monroe doctrine. He thanked
ne for the expression of Northern
entiment towards himself, but as for
nore fighting, he felt that he was get?
ing too o?d ; his only .desire now bo?
ng to be permitted to retire to private
ife aid end his days in seclusion. It
vas, I thought, an evidence of painful
adness at heart that prompted the
tdded expression, that he w-^uld have
teen plea-ed hal his life been takeu
n any' of the numerous battle fields on
phtc.h he had fought during this war.
While talking on the subject of the
bolition of slavery, I remarked that it
lad lately been charged in some of
he newspapers of the Nortli that the
Justis slaves, some two hundred in
lumber, had been left in Gea.
jee's custody for emancipation. The
xeaeral said this was a mistake. As
xecutor of the will he was required
0 emancipate these slaves at a certain
irae. That time had not arrived wheo
he war broke out. It did arrive oue
r two years afterwards. At that
irae he could not get to the' courts of
ha county io which Arlington 13 lo?
afed, to take out the .emancipation
apers as prescribed by law. But ho
id take out papers from the Supremo
Jourt of the State in this city, liberal
ng them all, and they are so recorded
1 the records of that court. He sent
*ord of their freedom tc the negroes
t Arlington, and the necessary paper-?
?ere sent to those at the White House,
nd to all others that could be reached,
nd they were all thus liberated,
ogether with a nnmber who wem
ither the General's or Mrs. Lee's
t i vate property.
. Bakery and Confectionery.
[" SHOD VI lc and W. STIEG LI ?Z
L.Jm have re opened their BAKERY,
IUFACTORY. Also, "on bund a fine,
ssortmentof CHEWING and SMOKING'
NU FF, GIG AI?S.. PIPES, Ac, at Messrs.
looper A Gnither's old stard. may 23 T>
House to Bent.
4 COMFORTABLE and eor?e?:?ico?
f\ DWELLING, delightfully siuiatcd.
nd contiining six rooms, ex :hisive-of ihn
itchen. Apply in Winn street, North ot?
be Charlotte Railroad Depot,
may 24 f2? WM. SHEPHERD.
?0 Wrapping Paper. 40
nw LD NEWSPAPERS for salo et thii
office Price 20 sod 40 c?nt# a 10)

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