Lee's pardon

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Found at http://www.gdg.org/research/People/RELee/pardon.html
=====
A.G. 201
Lee, Robert E.
(16 Jan 45) RO-R
Mrs. Sam. A. Davis,
235 South Jackson,
Glendale 5, California.

Dear Mrs. Davis:
In response to your letter of 16 January 1945, herewith in a copy of my letter of 27 June 1936, regarding General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A.

"In a proclamation dated May 29, 1865 (13 Stat. 758), President Johnson granted, with certain exceptions, amnesty and pardon ‘to all persons who have, directly or indirectly, participated in the existing rebellion * * *’. Among the persons excepted from the operation of this proclamation were
"3rd. All who shall have been military or naval officers of said pretended confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or lieutenant in the navy;​
"5th. All who resigned or tendered resignations of their commissions in the army or navy of the United States to evade duty in resisting the rebellion;​
"8th. All military and naval officers in the rebel service, who were educated by the government in the Military Academy at West Point or the United States Naval Academy."​
"Persons who sought to accept the benefits of this proclamation were required to take and subscribe to, maintain inviolate, an oath of allegiance prescried therein.

"General Lee, although not included within the terms of this proclamation by reason of the above quoted exceptions, made application for a pardon which, however, appears never to have been aced upon by President Johnson. The required oath of allegiance did not accompany General Lee’s applciation (War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. XLVI, Part III, pp. 1275-1286).

"On July 4, 1868, President Johnson issued another proclamation of amnesty and pardon (15 Stat. 702) which was much broader in its application than that of May 29, 1865, in that it granted

"* * * unconditionally and without reservation, to all and to every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion, excepting such person or persons as may be under presentment or indictment in any court of the United States having competent jurisdiction, upon a charge of treason or other felony, a full pardon and amnesty for the offence of treason against the United States, or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war * * *".​
"No oath of allegiance or other act was required of those who were pardoned by the amnesty of July 4, 1868, above cited.

"It would appear that this amnesty proclamation operated to pardon General Lee for the offense of treason for, so far as is known, General Lee was not under presentment or indictment upon a charge of treason or other felony.

"On July 13, 1868, nine days after the proclamation last above referred to, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by the last State necessary for its adoption.

"The third section of this amendment materially restricted the political rights of former officers of the United States who had participated in the rebellion against them, unless relieved from such disability by a vote of two-thirds of each House of Congress.

"In a proclamation dated December 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 711), President Johnson proclaimed and declared

" * * * unconditionally, and without reservation, to all and every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion, a full pardon and amnesty for the offence of treason against the United States, or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution and the laws which have been made in pursuance thereof.​
"This proclamation following, as it did, the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendent, was necessarily limited in its operation by the restrictions imposed by that Amendement upon the President’s pardoning power. The proclamation was operative, however, to pardon General Lee for the offense of treason and restore all to his former constittuional rights, privileges and immunities except the right to hold certain offices.

"Following General Lee’s death, October 12, 1870, Congress, by the acts of May 22, 1872 (17 Stat. 142), and June 6, 1898 (30 Stat. 432), removed all political disabilities imposed by the 3rd Section of the Fourteenth Amendment.

"It seems clear that General Lee was in fact pardoned by President Johnson, if not by the proclamation of July 4, 1868, then certainly by that of December 25, 1868, and that any politcal limitations to which he was subject by the Fourteenth Amendment were removed by the act of June 6, 1898.
"It is the opinion of the War Department that full and complete amnesty was accorded to General Lee by the several proclamations and acts of Congress above referred to, and that there remains no disability with respect to him upon which a further act of the Executive or of Congress could be operative even if he were still living."

Sincerely yours,
J.A. ULIO,
Major General,
The Adjutant General
By:
201 File, Old Records Division, Adjutant General's Office, 1917- , RG 407, National Archives Microfilm M-2063, Military Service Records of Robert E. Lee
 

jgoodguy

Banished Forever
-:- A Mime -:-
is a terrible thing...
Don’t feed the Mime
Joined
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Location
Birmingham, Alabama
As if that was not enough.

President Ford Restores Robert E. Lee's Citizenship After 100 Years

In 1970, a worker in the National Archives was going through some State Department files from the post-Civil War era. In those files he discovered Lee's Amnesty Oath. Apparently, then-Secretary of State William Seward, having no intention of approving Lee's request for restoring his citizenship, gave Lee's original application to a friend. The agency then pigeonholed Lee's Amnesty Oath, and so matters rested for 100 years.

Five years later, U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. (VA) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 23, a bill to restore Lee's U.S. citizenship. Passed by both chambers, the measure was signed by President Gerald Ford on August 5, in a ceremony at Arlington House – formerly the Custis-Lee Mansion – on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to a number of congressional members, about a dozen of Lee's descendants attended the ceremony, including Robert E. Lee V, the general's great-great grandson.

President Ford's remarks at the ceremony included these words:
Lee's dedication to his native State of Virginia charted his course for the bitter Civil War years, causing him to reluctantly resign from a distinguished career in the United States Army and to serve as General of the Army of Northern Virginia. He, thus, forfeited his rights to U.S. citizenship.
Once the war was over, he firmly felt the wounds of the North and South must be bound up. He sought to show by example that the citizens of the South must dedicate their efforts to rebuilding that region of the country as a strong and vital part of the American Union.
In 1865, Robert E. Lee wrote to a former Confederate soldier concerning his signing the Oath of Allegiance, and I quote: "This war, being at an end, the Southern States having laid down their arms, and the questions at issue between them and the Northern States having been decided, I believe it to be the duty of everyone to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony....
As a soldier, General Lee left his mark on military strategy. As a man, he stood as the symbol of valor and of duty. As an educator, he appealed to reason and learning to achieve understanding and to build a stronger nation. The course he chose after the war became a symbol to all those who had marched with him in the bitter years towards Appomattox.
General Lee's character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride.​
 

Katy

Cadet
Joined
Sep 29, 2020
The Senate passed the Resolution unanimously, and Ford praised Lee as an example for all Americans. At the time, I suppose, all the hatefulness was directed against Richard Noxon.
 

Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Did Lee and other Confederates lose their citizenship? The Unionist position was that secession could not legally happen, that the allegedly seceded states remained part of the Union, and that their citizens remained Americans. It could not, for example, be argued that they had enlisted in the service of a foreign nation, since the Confederacy was not recognized as such.

US citizens can be punished for crimes like treason - indeed, one would have to be a citizen to be guilty of treason - and the various pardons and amnesties signified that former rebels would not be so treated.
 
Did Lee and other Confederates lose their citizenship? The Unionist position was that secession could not legally happen, that the allegedly seceded states remained part of the Union, and that their citizens remained Americans. It could not, for example, be argued that they had enlisted in the service of a foreign nation, since the Confederacy was not recognized as such.

US citizens can be punished for crimes like treason - indeed, one would have to be a citizen to be guilty of treason - and the various pardons and amnesties signified that former rebels would not be so treated.

An 1872 SCOTUS decision you may find interesting in regards to treason and citizenship:

"By allegiance is meant the obligation of fidelity and obedience which the individual owes to the government under which he lives, or to his sovereign in return for the protection he receives. It may be an absolute and permanent obligation, or it may be a qualified and temporary one. The citizen or subject owes an absolute and permanent allegiance to his government or sovereign, or at least until, by some open and distinct act, he renounces it and becomes a citizen or subject of another government or another sovereign. The alien, whilst domiciled in the country, owes a local and temporary allegiance, which continues during the period of his residence.

This obligation of temporary allegiance by an alien resident in a friendly country is everywhere recognized by publicists and statesmen. In the case of Thrasher, a citizen of the United States resident in Cuba, who complained of injuries suffered from the government of that island, Mr. Webster, then Secretary of State, made, in 1851, a report to the President in answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives, in which he said: 'Every foreigner born residing in a country owes to that country allegiance and obedience to its laws so long as he remains in it, as a duty upon him by the mere fact of his residence, and that temporary protection which he enjoys, and is as much bound to obey its laws as native subjects or citizens. This is the universal understanding in all civilized states, and nowhere a more established doctrine than in this country.' And again: 'Independently of a residence with intention to continue such residence; independently of any domiciliation; independently of the taking of any oath of allegiance or of renouncing any former allegiance, it is well known that, by the public law, an alien or a stranger born, for so long a time as he continues within the dominions of a foreign government, owes obedience to the laws of that government, and may be punished for treason or other crimes as a native-born subject might be, unless his case is varied by some treaty stipulation.'

The same doctrine is stated in Hale's Pleas of the Crown, East's Crown Law, and Foster's Discourse upon High Treason, all of which are treatises of approved merit.

Such being the established doctrine, the claimants here were amenable to the laws of the United States prescribing punishment for treason and for giving aid and comfort to the rebellion. They were, as domiciled aliens in the country prior to the rebellion, under the obligation of fidelity and obedience to the government of the United States. They subsequently took their lot with the insurgents, and would be subject like them to punishment under the laws they violated but for the proclamation of the President of December 25th, 1868. That proclamation, in its comprehensive terms, includes them and all others in like situation. It grants 'unconditionally, and without reservation, to all and to every person who, directly or indirectly, participated in the late insurrection or rebellion, a full pardon and amnesty for the offence of treason against the United States, or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution and the laws which have been made in pursuance thereof."
Excerpt from the 1872 majority opinion delivered by Justice Field in Carlisle v. United States, 83 US 147

Justice Field's complete opinion can be found at
https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/83/147.html
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Did Lee and other Confederates lose their citizenship? The Unionist position was that secession could not legally happen, that the allegedly seceded states remained part of the Union, and that their citizens remained Americans. It could not, for example, be argued that they had enlisted in the service of a foreign nation, since the Confederacy was not recognized as such.

US citizens can be punished for crimes like treason - indeed, one would have to be a citizen to be guilty of treason - and the various pardons and amnesties signified that former rebels would not be so treated.
I don't think that they did but the entire issue was muddled before the 14th Amendment and they seem to have forfeited their civil rites. The Enrollment Act of 1865 really seems to have more to do with the forfeiture of civil rights than of citizenship. The 1976 Congressional act probably has to do with the General's civil rights but was passed to be emphatic. The same sort of thinking was probably behind the 1978 restoration of citizenship rights to Jefferson Davis.
 
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