Select Statutes and Other Documents: Illustrative of the History of the United States, 1861-1898

By William MacDonald | Go to book overview

No. 75. Proclamation granting Full Amnesty
December 25, 1868

THE act of January 21, 1867, repealing the amnesty provisions of the act of July 17, 1862, was regarded by President Johnson as an infringement upon the constitutional powers of the executive, and as such was ignored. A proclamation of September 7, 1867, granted full pardon and amnesty to all persons who had participated in the late rebellion, with the restoration of property and privileges, except as to property in slaves and in cases of legal proceedings under the laws of the United States, on condition of taking an oath to support the Constitution and the Union, and to "abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the late rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves." The following were excluded from the benefits of the proclamation: --

"First. The chief or pretended chief executive officers, including the President, the Vice-President, and all Heads of Departments of the pretended Confederate or Rebel Government, and all who were agents thereof in foreign States and countries, and all who held, or pretended to hold, in the service of the said pretended Confederate Government, a military rank or title above the grade of brigadier-general, or naval rank or title above that of captain, and all who were or pretended to be Governors of States, while maintaining, aiding, abetting, or submitting to and acquiescing in the rebellion.

"Second. All persons who in any way treated otherwise than as lawful prisoners of war persons who in any capacity were employed or engaged in the military or naval service of the United States.

"Third. All persons who, at the time they may seek to obtain the benefits of this proclamation, are actually in civil, military, or naval confinement or custody, or legally held to bail, either before or after conviction, and all persons who were engaged directly or indirectly in the assassination of the late President of the United States, or in any plot or conspiracy in any manner therewith connected."

A proclamation of July 4, 1868, granted amnesty to all save "such person or persons as may be under presentment or indictment, in any court of the United States having competent jurisdiction, upon a charge of treason or other felony," together with "restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and except also as to any property of which any person may have been legally divested under the laws of the United States." The proclamation of December 25 declared4 amnesty without conditions. A Senate resolution of January 5, 1869, requested the President "to transmit to the Senate a copy of any proclamation of amnesty made by him since the last adjournment of Congress, and also to communicate to the Senate by what authority of law the same was made." In a message of January 18 Johnson transmitted a copy of the proc-

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