Release: For Sale, Abraham Lincoln’s Original Signed Pardon for Conspiracy to Overthrow the US Government

The Raab Collection announced today that it has acquired and will offer for sale a newly discovered document of Abraham Lincoln pardoning a supposed Confederate sympathizer for “Conspiracy to Overthrow the Government of the United States of America.” The document, which has been in a US private collection for a century, is the only such document ever to reach the market.

“This document is a remarkable find,” said Nathan Raab, President of The Raab Collection and author of The Hunt for History (Scribner, 2020).  “It is testament to the challenges faced by President Lincoln and his leniency.”

Full historical background

The document

Washington, December 22, 1863. “Whereas one J.B. Peyton of Logan County, Kentucky, is now under indictment in the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Kentucky for Conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States; And whereas I am assured that the charge against the said J.B. Peyton is frivolous and untrue, and the expense of defending himself against it will be a great and unjust burden; And whereas the said J.B. Peyton has taken the oath of allegiance and executed a bond with security for his future good behavior.. Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America… do hereby grant a full and free pardon to the said J.B. Peyton for the offense charged in the said indictment.”

According to the study “Inside Lincoln’s Clemency Decision Making,” Lincoln issued 324 pardons as President, with only 64 of them war related. These 64 break down as follows: conspiracy (22), treason (17), rebellion (12), holding an office in the Confederacy (9), and serving with the rebels (4). Thus, this is one of only 22 pardons Lincoln issued for conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States.

About Raab & The Hunt for History: In 2020 (hardcover) and 2021 (paperback), Scribner published Nathan’s fascinating book from the rarified world of historical document dealing – THE HUNT FOR HISTORY: On the Trail of the World’s Lost Treasures—from the Letters of Lincoln, Churchill, and Einstein to the Secret Recordings Onboard JFK’s Air Force One. In the book by Nathan, whom Library Journal has compared to the Indiana Jones of historical document hunting, he shares amazing stories from the families and institutions who’ve called on him to authenticate rare and revelatory letters that will often fetch thousands and thousands of dollars. Among these stories: powerful letters of President Reagan to his daughter, pleading for family unity; the discovery of an early version of the JFK assassination tapes with 40 minutes of new information; Theodore Roosevelt’s letter home from Yellowstone to his young son, who would die in World War I.

Raab has worked with the families of many great historical figures on the treasures that have descended to them, including Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James K. Polk, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson, Gerald Ford, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, senior leadership in the Civil War, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It has worked to bring to the market many unpublished historical archives from all over the world.

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