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Pardon and Amnesty to the Rebels on Certain Conditions.


November and December 1863

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, December 10, 1863.



Pardon and Amnesty to the Rebels on Certain Conditions.


The Oath Which is to be Taken.


The Reconstruction of States.



The following proclamation is appended to the message:

WHEREAS, On and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided that the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States except in cases of impeachment; and

WHEREAS, a rebellion now exists, whereby the loyal States and Governments of several States have for a long time been subverted, and many persons have committed and are now guilty of treason against the United States; and

WHEREAS, With reference to said rebellion and treason laws have been enacted by Congress declaring the forfeiture and confiscation of property and the liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated, and also declaring that the President was thereby authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion, in any State or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions and at such terms and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public welfare; and,

WHEREAS, The Congressional declaration for limited and conditional pardon, accorded with well established judicial expositions of the pardoning power; and

WHEREAS, With reference to said rebellion the President of the United States has issued several proclamations, with provisions in regard to the liberation of slaves; and

WHEREAS, It is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and reinaugurate loyal State governments within and for their respective States; therefore,

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have directly or by implication participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights, if the said parties shall have ———-, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain such oath inviolate, and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:

“I do solemnly swear, in the 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 so long and so far as not yet 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.”

The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing proclamation, are all that are of may have been civil or diplomatic officers, or agents of the so-called
Confederacy; or all who have left Judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who shall have been military or naval officers of the rank of Colonel in the army, or Lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid in the rebellion; all who resigned their commissions in the army or the navy of the United States and afterwards aided the rebellion, and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons or white persons in charge of such otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may be found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen or in any other capacity, and I do further proclaim, declare and make known, that whenever any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth of the number of the votes cast in such State at the Presidential election of the year of our Lord, 1860, each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election laws of the State, existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall be established a State government, which shall be republican, and nowise contravening said oath; such shall be recognized as the true government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision, which declares that the United States shall guarantee every State to this Union a republican form of government; shall protect each of them against invasion, and on application of the Legislature or the Executive, when the Legislature cannot be convened, against domestic violence; and I do further proclaim, declare and make know that any provision which may be adopted by such State government in relation to the freed people of such State which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom and provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent as a temporary arrangement with their present condition as a laboring, landless and homeless class, will not be objected to by the national executive, and it is suggested as not improper that in constructing a loyal State Government in any State, the name of the boundary, the subdivision, the Constitution and the Federal code of laws as before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to modification made necessary by the conditions hereinbefore stated, and such others, if any, contravening said conditions which may be determined expedient by those framing the new State Government.  To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation so far as it relates to State Governments has no reference to States wherein loyal State Governments have all the while been maintained, and for the same reason it may be proper to further say, that whether members sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats constitutionally, rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive; and still further, that this proclamation is intended to present to the people of the States wherein the national authority has been suspended and loyal State Governments have been subverted, a mode by which the National authority over every loyal State Government may be established within said States, or any of them; and while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest with his present impressions, it must not be understood that another possible mode would not be acceptable.

Given under my hand, at the City of Washington, this 8th day of December, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.

By the President,                  ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WM. H SEWARD, Secretary of State.