Confederate Amnesty Papers, 1865-1867
Case Files of Applications from Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons ("Amnesty Papers"), 1865-1867, M1003
Updated March 3, 2016


Background:
At the end of the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson’s proclamation of May 29, 1865 provided for a general amnesty with some exceptions. Former Confederates not covered by the general amnesty were required to request a pardon and amnesty. These requests were evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This series of images contains the individual letters of application and other records in response to the proclamations, and a few applications submitted to President Lincoln while he was president.
The applications consist of statements of the petitioner and an oath of allegiance. In many files there are recommendations from prominent citizens for clemency, or letters from relatives or friends asking for compassion.
Approximately half of the applications are from individuals excepted under the proclamation of May 29, 1865 because of their ownership of property valued at more than $20,000. Under Johnson’s proclamation there were 14 classes of persons were not covered under the General Amnesty (the first seven were from previous amnesty proclamations during the Lincoln administration):
1. diplomatic agents or officials of the Confederacy,
2. persons who left judicial posts under the United States to aid the rebellion,
3. Confederate military officers above the rank of Army colonel or Navy lieutenant,
4. members of the U.S. Congress who left to aid in the rebellion,
5. persons who resigned commissions in the U.S. Army or Navy and afterwards aided in the rebellion,
6. persons who treated unlawfully black prisoners of war or their white officers,
7. persons in military or civilian confinement or custody,
8. individuals who had absented themselves from the United States in order to aid the rebellion,
9. graduates of West Point or Annapolis who served as Confederate officers,
10. ex-Confederate governors,
11. persons who left homes in territory under U.S. jurisdiction for purposes of aiding the rebellion,
12. persons who engaged in destruction of commerce on the high seas or in raids from Canada,
13. voluntary participants in the rebellion who had property valued at more than $20,000, and
14. persons who had broken the oath taken under the provisions of December 8, 1863.
President Johnson would issue three later amnesty proclamations. One, which reduced the number of excepted classes to three, reducing the number of cases to about 300. His second proclamation covered all but a few Confederates, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E Lee. On Christmas Day 1868, Johnson’s third proclamation gave amnesty to all unconditionally, and without reservation to all who had participated in the rebellion.

These records are also called “Case Files of Applications from Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons” or “Pardon Petitions and Related Papers Submitted in Response to President Andrew Johnson's Amnesty Proclamations of May 29, 1865.

Document Types
Documents in an application file include the jacket, the application, endorsements, and the Oath of Allegiance.
Files also may contain notations from the president and his assistants regarding the individual applicant.
Records address the issues of the applicant’s background, activities during the war, and their attitude about the defeat.



The Papers of Mary E. C. Gilliam
Dinwiddie County
State of Virginia
December 15th 1865

To His Excellency
Andrew Johnson
President of the United States

Sir:
The undersigned respectfully represents that she is now and has been a resident of the County of Dinwiddie from childhood to the present that for several years she has been and is now a widow engaged in farming as the means of support for herself and children the status of the negro having been changes and labor being now uncertain and difficult to obtain it may become necessary for her either to loose or sell her farm She has resided in said farm during the late war for its protection, but still it has been greatly damaged. She is advised that without a pardon some object might arise in the minds of those who were disposed to lease or purchase her farm should such an abjection be made it would embarrass her in making a negotiation necessary to provide for the maintenance of herself and children. The undersigned has done nothing to exclude her from the benefits of Your Excellency’s Proclamation of the 29th of May 1865. The oath required thereby she has long since taken, but having mislayed the certificate she forwards the original oath now taken again. She being worth more than Twenty thousand dollars comes within the 18th exemption of the Proclamation of the 29th May 1865 for the reasons stated as well as such will seem to your Excellency she being respectfully asks that she may receive a pardon
Mary E. C. Gilliam
State of Virginia City of Richmond to wit

Wm Norwood Jr., a Notary Public for the city aforesaid certify that Mary E. C. Gilliam has signed the above wiring in my presence and has solemnly sworn that the statements contained therein are true to the best of her

Knowledge ad belief
Given under my hand and notarial seal in Richmond VA this 21st day of December 1865
Wm Norwood Jr.
Notary Public

2. Mary E. C. Gilliam do solemnly swear that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United Stated and the Union of the States thereunder against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to said Constitution and Government that I will faithfully support and abide by all acts of Congress passed and all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves as long and so far as now modified or held void by Congress or by decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that I will faithfully perform all the duties that may be required by law and further that I do this with a full determination, pledge and promised without any mental reservation or evasion whatsoever, so help me God
Mary E. C. Gilliam

State of VA city of Richmond to wit
The above oath was solemnly sworn to and subscribed by Mary E. C. Gilliam in my presence in the city aforesaid this 21st day of December 1865

Given under my hand and notarial seal

Wm Norwood, Jr.
Notary Public

I recommend the pardon of the petitionary

F. H. Peirpoint



The Papers of Richard H. Gilliam
9 Oct 1865

To his Excellency the President of the U.S.
The undersigned Richard H. Gilliam of Buckingham County, State of Virginia, aged, fifty six years by occupation a farmer, respectfully represents: that he has never held any office under the Confederate government, that he has never had any connexion with the army, that he has taken the oath presented by the Proclamation of President Lincoln in 1863, and that he prescribed by the Proclamation of May 29th 1865, hereto appended. That his property before the war was supposed to be worth $20,000 and apprehending that he may be liable to proceeding against his property he respectfully solicits that the President will grant him such pardon as will save him from such annoyance and protect him in the rights guaranteed by the amnesty Proclamation.
R. H. Gilliam

We the undersigned have known Mr. Richard H. Gilliam the petitioner, for the last five years, and believe the facts stated by him in the foregoing petition are strictly true. Given under our hand this 9th day of October 1865.
__McKinney
G _ Moseley


The Papers of Dr. Joseph P. Gilliam
July 27th 1865

To His Excellency
Andrew Johnson Prest of the United States

Sir:
I am a native of Virginia, a Citizen of Chesterfield County in said State, 26 years old, from early life to the present time my energies have been devoted to the practice of medicine and to farming and I have never taken any prominent part in the politics of the county.

When this War (which I had nothing to do with inaugurating) was commenced without pretending to know much in respect to the questions then at issue but impelled by a spirit which was common to most persons residing in this section I conceived it my duty to obey the call of my state and did enlist as a private in a Volunteer Company in 1861 and remained in the service during its continuance under a sense of duty and with a knowledge of the fact that if I should at any time attempt to get out of it I would be liable to conscription. At the close of the War I held a Commission as Captain and a few days before the surrender of Genl Lee while on the retreat with the army I was taken prisoner and sent to Johnson Island. This is the extent of my personal participation in the late rebellion and being added that such participation may subject me to the 13th exception of your Excellency’s proclamation as my taxable property may be valued at more than twenty thousand dollars (though I do not think it can be estimated as high) notwithstanding I did in good faith on the 18th June 1865 at Johnson Island take the Oath of allegiance prescribed by the President of the United States pursuant to his Command, promulgated in G. O. No. 109, CSA G. O. War department and ____ ____ from the military prison at that part and set a liberty under the belief that all of my rights as a citizen of the United States had thereby been restored to me, ____ as ____ desiring to act prudently in the matter and wiling to evince by every proper means my loyalty to the Government under which I lived I do now crave pf your Excellency the special exercise of your clemency in my behalf as a person and to property.

No proceedings under the consideration act have been taken against any of my property and I have in like good faith taken and subscribed the Oath required under the proclamation of your Excellency of the 29th May last as _____ appears from the accompanying certificate and I respectfully ____ you to the testimonials of Governor Peirpont and other hencewith submitted.
Your Obt. Servt
Joseph P. Gilliam
Address Dr. Joseph P. Gilliam
Care
Donnans & Johnson
Petersburg, VA


City of Richmond
State of Virginia
To wit

I Thomas J. Bagby a notary public of the city and state aforementioned to hereby certify that Dr. Joseph P. Gilliam whose name is signed to the foregoing ____ bearing date July 27th 1865 this day personally appeared before me and made Oath to the accuracy of the statements contained therein
Given under my had this 27th day of July 1865
Thos J. Bagby, NP


Papers of William R. Gilliam of McDowell County, NC
27 Jul 1865

To his Excellency
Andrew Johnston
President of the United States

The petition of William R. Gilliam of the county of McDowell in the State of North Carolina, respectfully represents unto your Excellency, that he was opposed to the late rebellion in the Southern States and opposed the pretended secession action of the State of North Carolina, that after the was began and the pretended Confederate Government was established, he felt bound to submit to laws, that he had no power to resist; that he did some military service in said rebellion, but none that he could avoid; that he never voluntarily took up arms in said rebellion; that he at one time held the office of Post Master at Black Mountain in said county under said pretended government; that he frequently voted at popular elections and paid such taxes as were required of him from time to time, that he always deplored the war and rejoiced at its termination; that he desires the immediate and complete restoration of the Union and has truly and sincerely returned to his allegiance to the Government of the United States and intends to henceforth be a true and faithful citizen thereof.

Your petitioner is advised that he is excluded from the benefits of your Excellency’s Amnesty Proclamation dated the 29th of May AD 1865 and hence, he prays your Excellency to grant unto him special pardon for such participation in said rebellion and your petitioner will ever pray, etc.


Papers of Maynard Gilliam of McDowell County, NC
27 Jul 1865

To his Excellency
Andrew Johnston
President of the United States

The petition of Maynard Gilliam of the County of McDowell in the State of North Carolina, respectfully represents unto your Excellency, that he was opposed to the late rebellion in the Southern States and stood at all times against the pretended secession action of the said State; that after the war began, and the pretended Confederate Government was established, he felt bound to submit to the laws of said state, he was powerless to resist them, indeed that he did such military serve as was required of him, that he voluntarily took up arms; that he always deplored the war and demanded its speedy termination; that he held the office of Post Master under said pretended government at Black Mountain in said state with a view to avoid military service as much as in any other course; that he voted at most of the popular elections, and paid such taxes as were required of him from time to time; that he has truly and sincerely returned to his allegiance to the Government of the United States; that he is rejoiced at the Cession of the War and desires the immediate restoration of the Union and hopes it will be perpetuated.

Your petitioner is advised that he is excluded from the benefits of your Excellency’s Proclamation of Amnesty dated 29th of May AD 1865 and here to he prays your Excellency to grant unto him special pardon for said participation in said rebellion. And your petitioner will ever pray, etc.


Sources
  • Scott, Craig R. Amnesty Papers, 1865-1867. www.Footnote.com