Spirit of Jefferson

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Amnesty Proclamation

Spirit of Jefferson


Amnesty Proclamation








Benjamin F. Beall Charlestown, VA November 7, 1865

Topics Reconstruction,Government


Whereas, the President of the United States, on the 8th day of December, 1863 , did with the object of suppressing the existing rebellion, to induce all persons to lay down their arms, to return to their loyalty, and to restore the authority of the United States, issue proclamations offering amnesty and pardon to certain persons who had directly or by implication, engaged in said rebellion; and

Whereas, Many persons who had so engaged in said rebellion, have since the issuance of said proclamation failed or neglected to take the benefits offered thereby; and

Whereas, Many persons who have been justly deprived of all claim to amnesty and pardon thereunder, by reason of their participation directly or by implication in said rebellion, and continued in hostility to the government of the government of the United States since the date of said proclamation, now desire to apply for and obtain amnesty and pardon:

To the end, therefore, so the authority of the Government of the United States may be restored, and that peace, order and freedom may be established, I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do proclaim and declare, that I hereby grant to all persons who have directly or indirectly participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereafter excepted, amnesty and pardon, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, except in cases where legal proceedings under the laws of the United States, providing for the confiscation of property of persons engaged in rebellion, have been instituted, but on the condition, nevertheless, that every such person shall take and submit to the following oath, which shall be registered, for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following to-wit:

I do solemnly swear or affirm in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth support, protect and faithfully defend the constitution of the United States and 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.

The following classes of persons are excepted from the benefits of this proclamation:

1. All who are or have been pretended or diplomatic officers or otherwise domestic, or foreign agents of the pretended Confederate States.

2. All who left Judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion.

3. All who have been military or naval officers of the pretended Confederate Government above the rank of Colonel in the army, and Lieutenant in the navy.

4. All who left their seat in Congress of the United States to aid the rebellion.

5. All who resigned or tendered the resignation of their commissions in the army or Navy of the United States to evade their duty in resisting the rebellion.

6. All who have engaged in any way in treating otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, persons found in the United States service as officers, soldiers, seamen, or in other capacities.

7. All persons who have been or are absentees from the United States for the purpose of aiding the rebellion.

8. All military and naval officers in the rebel service who were educated by the Government in the Military Academy at West Point or at the United States Naval Academy.

9. All persons who held the pretended offices of Governors of the States in insurrection against the United States.

10. All persons who left their homes within the jurisdiction and protection of the United States, and passed beyond the Federal military lines into the so-called Confederate States for the purpose of aiding the rebellion.

11. All persons who engaged in the destruction of the commerce of the United States upon the high seas, and all persons who have made raids into the United States from Canada or been engaged in destroying the commerce of the United States on the lakes and rivers that separate the British provinces from the United States.

12. All persons who, at the time when they seek to obtain the benefits hereof by taking the oath herein prescribed, are in military, naval or civil confinement or custody, or under bond of the military or naval authorities or agents of the United States as prisoners of any kind, either before or after their conviction.

13. All persons who have voluntarily participated in said rebellion, the estimated value of whose taxable property is over $20,000.

14. All persons who have taken the oath of amnesty, as prescribed in the President's Proclamation of December 8th, 1863 , or the oath of allegiance to the United States since the date of said proclamation, and who have not thenceforward kept the same inviolate; provided, that special application may be made to the President for pardon by any person belonging to the excepted classes, and such clemency will be extended as may be consistent with the facts of the case and the peace and dignity of the United States. The Secretary of State will establish rules and regulations for administering and recording the said amnesty oath, so as to insure its benefits to the people and guard the government against fraud.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and cause the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this 29th day of May, A.D., 1865 , and of the independence of America the 89th. ANDREW JOHNSON.

By the President,

WM. H. Seward, Secretary of State.



Department of State.

Washington, May 29.

SIR. -- A copy of the President's Amnesty Proclamation of this date is herewith appended.

A clause in that instrument directs the Secretary of State to establish rules and regulations for administering and recording the amnesty oath so as to insure its benefits to the people and guard the Government against fraud. Pursuant to this injunction, you are informed that the oath prescribed in the Proclamation may be taken and subscribed to before any commissioned officer, civil, military or naval, of the United States, or any civil or military officer of a loyal State or Territory, who, by the laws thereof, may be qualified for administering the oath.

All officers who receive such oaths are authorized to give certified copies thereof to persons respectively by whom they were made, and such officers are hereby required to transmit originals of such oaths at as early a day as convenient, to this Department, where they will be deposited and remain in the archives of the Government.

A register thereof will be kept in the Department, and on application in proper cases, certificates will be issued of such certificates in the form of official certificates.

I am your obedient servant,

WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.



The following circular has been issued from the Attorney General's office by direction from the President:

All persons belonging to excepted classes enumerated in the President's proclamation of May 29th, 1865 , who may make special application to their President for pardon, are hereby notified that before their respective applications would be considered, it must be shown that they have respectively taken and subscribed to the oath or affirmation in said proclamation of the President. Every such person desiring special pardon should make application in writing or in person therefor, and transmit with such application the original oath and affirmation as taken and subscribed before the officer authorized under the rules and regulations promulgated by the secretary of State, to administer the amnesty oath prescribed in said proclamation of the President.

JAS. A. SPEED, Attorney General.