John Tyler reports on the failed Peace Conference
Extract from the speech of John Tyler, begun on March 13, 1861, and concluded the following day, printed in George H. Reese and William H. Gaines Jr., ed., Proceedings of the Virginia Convention of 1861 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1965), 1:638–639.
In January 1861, the General Assembly of Virginia called for the national Peace Conference. To represent the state, it elected five men who lived in different regions of Virginia, some of them Democrats and some former Whigs. Former United States president John Tyler, of Charles City County in eastern Virginia, was elected president of the conference, which met in Washington, D.C., from February 4 through February 27, 1861. The conference recommended that Congress submit a comprehensive constitutional amendment to the states to settle the sectional crisis permanently. Tyler was also a member of the Virginia Convention, and in a two-day speech to the Convention that he began on March 13, 1861, and completed on the following day, he explained how he had aspired "to the glory of aiding to settle this controversy" and save the Union. He also denounced the proposals that the conference had submitted to Congress because they offered nothing of substance to the states that had seceded that would bring them back into the Union. Congress failed to act on the conference recommendations before it adjourned.