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Zebulon Baird Vance to Jefferson Davis, December 30, 1863


Zebulon Baird Vance to Jefferson Davis, December 30, 1863


In this correspondence from North Carolina's Governor Zebulon B. Vance to the Confederacy's President Jefferson Davis, Vance proposes a scheme that ideally would quell the political unrest in North Carolina. At the time of this letter, in late December 1863, North Carolina was experiencing upheavals and riots that were calling to end the incessant bloodshed of the Civil War. These protests led many in the Confederate government, including Vance and Davis, to believe the sovereignty of the government was threatened and, as noted in this correspondence, Vance believed something had to be done to restore the peoples’ confidence in their Confederate leaders.

While Vance knew that the Union would disregard any attempt by the South to engage in peace talks that were centered on Confederate independence, on December 30, 1863, he sent a letter to President Davis proposing that the Confederacy make one more attempt at peace. Vance’s tactic was to propagate the appearance that the Confederate administration did not want the war and was acting in self-defense against an aggressive North; this, he argued, would cause the more “humble” and peace-loving citizens to support the cause of the war and give up their protests for peace.

Even though President Davis shot down Vance’s proposal in the following month, this proposal exemplified Vance’s desire for peace while showing the urgency with which he wanted to unite the people in a common Confederate cause.


Zebulon Baird Vance


Zebulon Baird Vance to Jefferson Davis, December 30, 1863, The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance, edited by Frontis W. Johnston, Vol. 1, 1843-1862, Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1963.




William Crouse




Raleigh, North Carolina
Wake County, North Carolina

Original Format



ZBV to Jefferson Davis

State of North Carolina
Executive Department
Raleigh, Dec. 30th. 1863

His Excellency
President Davis

My dear Sir:
After a careful consideration of all the sources of discontent in North Carolina, I have concluded that it will be perhaps impossible to remove it except by making some effort at negotiation with the enemy. The recent action of the Federal House of Representatives, though meaning very little, has greatly excited the public hope that the Northern mind is looking towards peace. I am promised by all men who advocate this course, that if fair terms are rejected it will tend greatly to strengthen and intensify the war feeling and will rally all classes to a more cordial support of the government. And although our position is well known, as demanding only to be let alone yet it seems to me that for the sake of humanity, without having any weak or improper motives attributed to us, we might with property constantly tender negotiations.
In doing so we would keep conspicuously before the world a disclaimer of our responsibility for the great slaughter of our race and convince the humblest of our citizens, who sometimes forget the actual situation, that the government is tender of their lives and happiness and would not prolong their sufferings unnecessarily one moment. Though Statesmen might regard this as useless, the people will not, and I think our cause will be strengthened thereby. I have not suggested the method of these negotiations or their terms, the effort to obtain peace is the principal matter. Allow me to beg your earnest consideration of this suggestion.

Very respectfully Yours
Z. B. Vance


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Zebulon Baird Vance, Zebulon Baird Vance to Jefferson Davis, December 30, 1863, Civil War Era NC, accessed June 20, 2024,