Pardons of President Andrew Johnson
Were the Confederates Traitors for Seceding From the Union ?
The answer is a resounding NO !!!
The Constitution contained no provision that covered Secession. No Confederate was ever tried or convicted for treason, which carried the penalty of death.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
40th Congress 2nd Session – Executive Document Number 16
40th Congress HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Ex, Doc.
2d Session No. 16
PARDONS BY THE PRESIDENT
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Final report of the names of persons engaged in rebellion who have been pardoned
By the President
DECEMBER 4, 1867. – Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and ordered to be printed.
To the House of Representatives:
I transmit herewith a final report from the Attorney General, additional to reports submitted by him December 31, 1866, March 2, 1867, and July 8, 1867, in reply to a resolution of the House of Representatives of December 10, 1866, requesting a ”list of names of all persons engaged in the late rebellion against the United States government who have been pardoned by the President from April 15, 1865, to this date; that said list shall also state the rank of each person who has been so pardoned, if he has been engaged in the military service of the so-called confederate government, and the position, if he shall have held any civil office under said so-called confederate government; and shall also further state whether such person has, at any time prior to April 14, 1861, held any office under the United States government; and if so, what office; together with the reasons for granting such pardons; and also the names of the person or persons at whose solicitation such pardon was granted.”
WASHINGTON, December 4, 1867.
The above is found on P. 269 of SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL PARDONS FOR CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS: A listing of former Confederate Soldiers requesting full pardon from President Andrew Johnson: Part 2 – INDEX. Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee, 37377-0400 (www.mountainpress.com). Central Mississippi Regional Library: GENEA; 973.75; SPE; v.2. Item ID: 13470101011203. Library System Bar Code: 1 3470 10101 1203.
SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL PARDONS
Pp. i-iii (PART 1)
Following the Civil War many of the southern men were not given amnesty in the general amnesty proclamations due to various factors. These men had to apply for a “special pardon” to be given by President Andrew Johnson. For most of these men, they had to apply to their own governor first and then to the President. In many cases, one or the other of these two knew these men personally and this made the decision more difficult.
During the Civil War, Federal officials recognized a need for new laws to deal with the rebellious acts of a large part of the Southern population. Because ‘treason’ seemed too strong a word and death too severe a penalty for many of the acts in support of the Confederate cause, the Congress of the United States passed acts on July 31, 1861 (12 Stat. 284), and July 17, 1862 (12 Stat. 589), that fixed penalties for lesser crimes of ‘conspiracy’ and ‘rebellion.’ The latter act also provided for future pardon and amnesty by Presidential proclamation to be extended “…to any persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion…with such exceptions and at such time and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public welfare.”
The first of such amnesty
proclamations was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on 8 December 1863. It
extended pardon to persons taking an oath of support for the Constitution and
A supplementary proclamation, issued 26 March 1864, added a seventh exception (persons in military or civilian confinement or custody) and provided that members of the excluded classes could make application for special pardon from the President.
On 29 May 1865, President Johnson
issued his first amnesty proclamation. Johnson’s Attorney General, James Speed,
had advised the President that while
President Johnson indicated that he did not wish to deny pardon to any in the excepted classes, but he “intended they should sue for pardon, and so realize the enormity of their crime.” There were, however motives other than repentance in the minds of many applicants. A Presidential pardon would restore a citizen to his former civil rights, and would also provide immunity from prosecution for treason and from confiscation of property. Thus, the President was soon besieged with thousands of applications, and by the fall of 1867 he had granted about 13,500 individual pardons.
On 7 September 1867, Johnson issued a second amnesty proclamation narrowing the number of excepted classes to three and reducing the number of those still un-pardoned to about 300. His third proclamation, which excluded only Jefferson Davis, John C. Breckinridge, Robert E. lee and a few others was issued 6 July 1868. On Christmas Day of that same year, Johnson’s final amnesty proclamation was extended “unconditionally and without reservation” to all who had participated in the rebellion. [NOTE: Text Color added for emphasis]
Lists of persons pardoned under Johnson’s first amnesty proclamation are contained in the following:
House Executive Document No. 31, 39th Congress, 2d Session, serial 1289
House Executive Document No. 116, 39th Congress, 2d Session, serial 1293
House Executive Document No. 32, 40th Congress, 1st Session, serial 1311
House Executive Document No. 99, 39th Congress, 1st Session, serial 1263
House Executive Document No. 16, 40th Congress, 2d Session, serial 1289
These records are microfilmed in their entirety in Record Group 94 of the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office 1780-1917 in publication M1003. These seventy-two rolls of film contain all of the original applications with the letters and statements made in behalf of each of the almost 20,000 men to apply for Special Pardon. No search into one’s family is complete until you have their own words and those of their friends who vouched for them at a critical time in their lives.
James L. Douthat
NOTE: The above text was copied verbatim from the Source Reference Material. I take NO CREDIT WHATSOEVER in its accuracy or compilation, other than the addition of it to this web page. All Rights Reserved by the original person or persons and /or companies listed herein. This is posted under the Fair Use Laws of the United States of America. To the best of my knowledge, the information listed herein is a matter of public record.