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The Amnesty Act of 1872

On May 22, 1872 (140 years ago today) President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the Amnesty Act, a federal law that removed voting restrictions and office-holding disqualification against most of the secessionists who joined the rebel cause during the Civil War, except for some 500 military leaders of the Confederacy.

Following the end of the Civil War, in May of 1866 Congress passed a law removing these rights from supporters of the Confederacy. Gradually, states that had seceeded were let back into the union. Texas was readmitted on March, 30, 1870, Mississippi was readmitted February 23, 1870, and Virginia on January 26, 1870. Georgia became the last Confederate state to be readmitted into the Union on July 15, 1870. All members for the House of Representatives and Senate were seated from the 10 Confederate states who seceded.

To ease tensions, Grant signed the Amnesty Act. It gave amnesty to former Confederates. This act allowed most former Confederates, to hold elected public office. Only 500 former Confederates remained unpardoned and therefore forbidden to hold elected public office. The Act affected over 150,000 former Confederate troops who had taken part in the American Civil War.


May. 23rd, 2012 12:28 pm (UTC)
Leaving aside the union vs. states rights argument, the slavery issue or the botched job that was Reconstruction, does anyone else find it curious that Confederate [i]military[/i] leaders were not pardoned but that their [i]civilian/political[/i] masters were?

Given that it was Southern politicians, not generals, who voted to secede from the Union, formed the Confederate government, and thus oversaw the Confederate army in much the same way that the federal government has civilian control over the U.S. Army....is it just me or does the Amnesty Act seem bass ackwards?
May. 23rd, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
That's a good question. I believe that Jefferson Davis was excluded from a pardon. I can't immediately find a source for precisely who else was excluded, though I get the impression that "military leaders" included civilians who directed military operations. I'm curious about this too.


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