Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
(?-1899)
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Editor/Trans.
First Pub. Date
1881
Publisher/Edition
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Pub. Date
1899
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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AMNESTY

I.56.1

AMNESTY (IN U. S. HISTORY). I. Dec. 8, 1863, president Lincoln issued his first proclamation of amnesty. It was based upon the president's constitutional power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment. Congress had authorized such a proclamation by act of July 17, 1862. The proclamation offered a full pardon and restoration of property rights, except in slaves and in cases where rights had accrued to third parties, to all, with the exceptions hereafter given, who would take and keep the following oath: "I———, do solemnly swear, in presence of almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and the union of the states thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of congress passed during the present rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by congress, or by decision of the supreme court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by, and faithfully support all proclamations of the president, made during the existing rebellion, having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the supreme court. So help me God."

I.56.2

—The following classes of persons were excepted: civil or diplomatic officers, army officers above the rank of colonel, and naval officers above the rank of lieutenant, in the confederate service, all who had left judicial stations or seats in congress, or had resigned commissions under the United States, to aid the rebellion, and all who had treated federal colored soldiers or their officers otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war. March 26, 1864, a supplementary proclamation explained that the first proclamation was not intended to embrace prisoners of war.

I.56.3

—II. May 29, 1865, president Johnson issued a proclamation offering amnesty, as in president Lincoln's first proclamation, to those who would take and keep the following oath: "I,——————, do solemnly swear, or affirm, in presence of almighty God, that I will hence-forth faithfully support and defend the constitution of the United States and the union of the states thereunder, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves. So help me God."

I.56.4

—In addition to the classes named in the proclamation of Dec. 8, 1863, the following classes were excepted: all foreign agents of the confederate states, graduates of West Point or Annapolis in the rebel army, governors of states in rebellion, deserters, privateersmen, Canada raiders, prisoners of war, persons worth over $20,000, and persons who had already taken and broken the oath required. Persons in the excepted classes were to make special application for pardons. A bill to repeal the act of July 17, 1862, above mentioned, was passed by the house Dec. 3, 1866, and by the senate Jan. 7, 1867, and became a law through the president's failure to sign or veto it. He preferred to treat the original act and the repealer as nullities, trenching on the president's constitutional pardoning power.

I.56.5

—III. Sept. 7, 1867, president Johnson issued another proclamation of amnesty. It recited the substance of former proclamations, including that of April 2, 1866, declaring the rebellion at an end, offered full amnesty to all who would take and keep the oath, above given, substituting "late" for "existing" in describing the rebellion, and excepted the following classes, "and no others": the president, vice-president, and heads of departments of the confederate government, its foreign agents, military officers above the grade of brigadier general, naval officers above the grade of captain, governors of states, all who had unlawfully treated prisoners of war, all legally held in confinement, and all parties to the assassination of president Lincoln.

I.56.6

—IV. July 4, 1868, by proclamation, president Johnson offered full pardon and amnesty for treason, with restoration of property rights, except as to slaves and confiscated property, to all except those who might be under indictment or presentment in any federal court. No form of oath was prescribed.

I.56.7

—V. Dec. 25, 1868, by proclamation, president Johnson, by virtue of the power and authority in him vested by the constitution, proclaimed and declared unconditionally and without reservation, a full pardon and amnesty for treason to all who directly or indirectly participated in the rebellion, without the formality of any oath (see RECONSTRUCTION).

I.56.8

—VI. By the 3rd section of the 14th amendment, which was declared in force July 28, 1868, disability to hold office was imposed on those who in higher positions had engaged in rebellion, with permission to congress to remove such disability. After the disability of many persons had been removed by acts of congress applicable only to individual cases, the act of May 22, 1872, removed the political disability of all persons except those who had engaged in rebellion, having been members of the 36th or 37th congresses, officers in the judicial, military or naval service of the United States, or heads of departments or foreign ministers of the United States. An attempt in 1873 to make the removal universal failed.

I.56.9

—See Appleton's Annual Cyclopædia (1861-73), McPherson's Political History of the Rebellion and History of the Reconstruction. For the successive proclamations above referred to, see (I.) Dec. 8, 1863, and March 26, 1864, 13 Stat. at Large (38th cong.), appendix 1, vii, xi; (II.) May 29, 1865, McPherson's History of the Reconstruction, 9; (III.-V.) Sept. 7, 1867; July 4, and Dec. 25, 1868, 15 Stat. at Large, 699, 702, 711. The act of July 17, 1862, is in 12 Stat. at Large, 589 (§13); the act of May 22, 1872, is in 17 Stat. at Large, 142.

ALEXANDER JOHNSTON.

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