“Let these men take the oath...& be discharged.”.
Lincoln wanted to implement a lenient policy for reconstruction for the South. Akey part of this plan was put into place on December 8, 1863, when he issued a proclamation that provided guidelines for the systematic reestablishment of loyal state governments in that region. It also contained a means of repatriating those...
Lincoln wanted to implement a lenient policy for reconstruction for the South. Akey part of this plan was put into place on December 8, 1863, when he issued a proclamation that provided guidelines for the systematic reestablishment of loyal state governments in that region. It also contained a means of repatriating those who had “participated in the existing rebellion” and now wanted to resume their allegiance: he would issue a full pardon if they took a prescribed oath of loyalty. Significantly, the pardon provided for restoration of all rights of property except as to slaves. This was the required 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 existing rebellion with reference to slaves…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 help me God."
Many persons in southern areas under Union control, as well as Confederate soldiers held as prisoners of war in the North (including those who had been reluctantly drafted into the Southern service) thought the war as good as lost and sought to take Lincoln up on his offer. They or their friends wrote the President explaining their situations and sincerity, and asking for the pardon. He would write his order on the back of the letter and send it on to the appropriate department. This is one of those pardons, cut from the back of just such a letter.
Autograph Note Signed as President, Washington, February 8, 1865. “Let these men take the oath of Dec. 8, 1863 & be discharged.” An interesting memento of Lincoln’s legendary leniency from the last few months of the war. There is some uneven age toning.
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