Abraham Lincoln - Pardon Signed Co-signed By: William H. Seward
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Abraham Lincoln - Pardon Signed Co-signed By: William H. Seward:
PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN - PARDON SIGNED CO-SIGNED BY: WILLIAM H. SEWARD ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Signed pardon of Private John H. Murphy, convicted of manslaughter in the D.C. Criminal Court, also signed by Secretary of State William Seward. Lincoln was usually predisposed to leniency in punishment of soldiers, but in this case he acted on the unanimous recommendation of the trial jurors, among others. Lincoln only issued 343 pardons of persons convicted in civilian courts, making this a rare document!
Pardon signed: "Abraham Lincoln" as President, "William H. Seward", as Secretary of State, 2 pages (front and verso), with docketing on integral leaf, 10½x17. Washington, D.C., 1861 September 27. Manuscript document addressed "To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting". In full: "Whereas it appears that at the June Term, 1861, of the Criminal Court of the District of Columbia, one John H. Murphy was convicted of manslaughter, and was by the said Court sentenced to be imprisoned in the Penitentiary of said District for the period of eight years; And whereas it appears that the said John H. Murphy was a young man of good moral character and peaceable disposition, who had entered the military service of the United States for the defense of the Capital and the government thereof, and there is reason to believe that he committed the offense out of a mistaken sense of duty and not from a depravity of heart; and whereas the Jurors who convicted the said John H. Murphy have unanimously recommended his pardon; And whereas eighteen Members of the Board of Aldermen and City Council, and the Register and Collector of the City of Washington, together with nearly one thousand citizens of the District of Columbia, have earnestly besought me to extend Executive Clemency to the said John . Murphy; Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises, diverse other good and sufficient reasons me thereunto moving, have granted, and do hereby grant unto him, the said John H. Murphy, a full and unconditional pardon. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto signed my name and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed." Document retains the embossed paper seal. Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution confers on the President the power to grant pardons. As a wartime President, Lincoln was often faced with questions of pardon and clemency for soldiers punished by military courts. His leniency, well known in the Army, helped win the affection of ordinary soldiers (and their votes for his re-election), but was often criticized by officers as a threat to discipline. This pardon, coming less than two months after the disastrous Union defeat and disorderly retreat at Bull Run, on the very approaches to Washington, made these conflicting morale and discipline considerations even more pressing. Northern Illinois University scholars P. S. Ruckman, Jr. and David Kincaid made a systematic study of Lincoln's pardons of civilian court verdicts, and found these pardons to be motivated by shrewd political calculations as well as by his legendary kindness. As in the case of Private Murphy, Lincoln usually gave detailed justifications for his pardons, including popular support for the measure. No further information on Private Murphy's case is readily available, but it should be noted that in 1861 the Lincoln administration was very concerned about the loyalty of Washington City, many of whose citizens were suspected of southern sympathies. The President, always sensitive to the political implications of his pardon decisions, might have been loath to ignore the recommendation of so many townsmen in this case. Horizontal and vertical fold creases. Two 1" wear slits at center horizontal fold at vertical fold intersections. Lightly creased and toned. Paper embossed seal intact. Overall, fine condition.
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