As Grant continued to weaken Lee's forces, efforts to discuss peace began. Confederate Vice President Stephens led a group meeting with Lincoln, Seward, and others at Hampton Roads. Lincoln refused to negotiate with the Confederacy as a coequal; his objective to end the fighting was not realized. On April 1, 1865, Grant nearly encircled Petersburg in a siege. The Confederate government evacuated Richmond and Lincoln visited the conquered capital. On April 9, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, officially ending the war.
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, just days after the Army of Northern Virginia's surrender at Appomattox briefly lessened the tension over who would set the terms of peace. The radicals, while suspicious of the new president and his policies, believed, based upon his record, that Andrew Johnson would defer, or at least acquiesce to their hardline proposals.
The late President lay in state, first in the East Room of the White House, and then in the Capitol Rotunda from April 19 through April 21. The caskets containing Lincoln's body and the body of his son Willie traveled for three weeks on the Lincoln Special funeral train. The train followed a circuitous route from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois, stopping at many cities for memorials attended by hundreds of thousands.
On April 26, 1865, in Jackson, Mississippi, Sue Landon Vaughan supposedly decorated the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers. However, the earliest recorded reference to this event did not appear until many years after the fact and is considered a myth. Regardless, mention of the observance is inscribed on a southeast panel of the Confederate Monument in Jackson, erected in 1891.