Source Information

Ancestry.com. U.S., Pardons Under Amnesty Proclamations, 1865-1869 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Pardons Under Amnesty Proclamations, compiled 1865–1869. A1 1005, 26 rolls. ARC ID: 638273. General Records of the Department of State, 1763–2002, Record Group 59. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

About U.S., Pardons Under Amnesty Proclamations, 1865-1869

This database contains copies of presidential pardons granted to Confederate soldiers and citizens.

Historical Background

On May 29, 1865, following the end of the Civil War, President Johnson issued an amnesty proclamation. Under this proclamation former Confederates who had not already taken advantage of President Lincoln’s 1863 amnesty proclamation could receive amnesty upon their taking an oath to defend the Constitution and the Union and to obey all federal laws and proclamations in reference to slavery made during the rebellion. (President Lincoln’s 1863 amnesty proclamation had similar requirements.)

The proclamation excluded amnesty for the following individuals, except upon special application to the president:

  • individuals who had absented themselves from the U.S. in order to aid in the rebellion
  • graduates of West Point or Annapolis who served as Confederate officers
  • ex-Confederate governors
  • persons who left homes in territory under U.S. jurisdiction for purposes of aiding the rebellion
  • persons who engaged in destruction of commerce on the high seas or in raids from Canada
  • voluntary participants in the rebellion who had property valued at more than $20,000
  • persons who had broken the oath taken under the provisions of the proclamation of 1863
  • civil or diplomatic agents or officials of the Confederacy
  • persons who left judicial posts under the U.S. to aid the rebellion
  • confederate military officers above the rank of army colonel or navy lieutenant
  • members of the U.S. Congress who left to aid in the rebellion
  • persons who resigned commissions in the U.S. Army or Navy and afterwards aided in the rebellion
  • persons who treated unlawfully black prisoners of war and their white officers
  • persons in military or civilian confinement or custody

In September 1867, the president issued a second proclamation which reduced the number of exception categories from 14 to 3. The president received thousands of amnesty applications, and by late 1867 he had already granted 13,500 pardons. Later proclamations would extend amnesty to wider groups until Christmas Day of 1868, when President Johnson issued his final proclamation, which allowed for amnesty to all who had participated in the rebellion.

What You Can Find in the Records

This database contains copies of presidential pardons granted based on the amnesty proclamations made between 1865 and 1868. Documents include an applicant’s name, place of residence, and date of pardon.