Lincoln Letters - June 17, 1861

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June 17, 1861
Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States of America
To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting;
Whereas it appears that at the March Term 1861, of the Criminal Court of the District of Columbia, John Booth, a colored man was indicted and convicted for larceny and was by Said Court Sentenced to be imprisoned in the Common jail for the term of Six Months;
And whereas it appears that the Said John Booth has now served out about, three months of his Said term of imprisonment and conducted himself well during his confinement;
And whereas it appears that this was the first offence of the Said John Booth, and that previous to its commission he had borne a good character;
And whereas it appears that the Said John Booth has a wife and five young children who have been brought to poverty

The District of Coumbia does not have a Governor. It was a responsibility of the sitting President to oversee, review and grant any pardons in criminal cases. During Lincoln's time in office he granted a total of 343 military and criminal pardons. That compares to Andrew Johnson who granted 654 and Grant who approved 1,332. This pardon has some irony in that it is for a man named John Booth. Booth, a "colored man" was given a presidential pardon and in later census records he was shown working as a janitor at a police station. His children became better educated and had various careers in the D.C area.

June 17, 1861
and distress by his imprisonment.
And whereas the Hon. H. Addison late Mayor of Georgetown and other highly respectable citizens have earnestly besought me to extend the Executive Clemency to the Said John Booth,
Now therefore be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln President of the United States of America in consideration of the promises, divines other good and sufficient reasons me thereunto moving have granted and do hereby grant unto him the Said John Booth a full and unconditional pardon.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto signed my name and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this Seventeenth day of June AD, 1861 and the independence of the United States the Eighty-fifth.
By the President
Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward
Secretary of State
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