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A Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction
May 29, 1865
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Ephemera Collection
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Photo of an excerpt from A Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction by President Johnson
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Document Description
Noting the failure of persons connected with the former Confederacy to fulfill the terms by which Lincoln had granted amnesty, President Johnson renews the offer in this proclamation. The Proclamation insists that persons desiring amnesty take an oath to disclaim slavery and defend the U.S. Constitution. It also exempts certain parties from being eligible for the benefits proffered.


Whereas the President of the United States, on the 8th day of December, A. D. eighteen hundred and sixty-three, and on the 24th day of March A. D. eighteen hundred and sixty-four, did, with the object to suppress the existing rebellion, and to restore the authority of the United States, issue proclamations offering amnesty to certain persons who had directly or by implication participated in the said rebellion; and whereas more than one year has elapsed since said proclamations were issued, and in that time many persons have failed and refused to take the benefits offered thereby; and whereas many persons who have complied with the terms and taken the oath in said proclamations prescribed, committed acts of hostility against the government of the United States after the said offer of amnesty and notice thereof, and as to all such a doubt exists whether the said proclamation affords the legal protection intended to be given; and whereas many persons have continued their hostility to the government till a recent date, notwithstanding the proffered pardon, who are now willing to accept the amnesty of the government;

To the end, therefore, that doubts may be removed, that the authority of the government of the United States may be restored, and that pease, order, and freedom may be established, I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do proclaim and declare that I hereby grant and assure to all persons of color who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, a free pardon; and that I hereby grant and assure to all white persons who have, directly or indirectly, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, a full pardon, but upon the condition, nevertheless, that every such person will, in aid of the emancipation proclamation, the legal validity of which is hereby affirmed, freely and forever disclaim, and will never assert, right or title to slaves, and that every such person will never thereafter own a slave or any interest therein, and will take and subscribe the following oath, (or affirmation:)

"I, -- --,declaring that I do, freely and forever, disclaim, and that I will never assert, right or title to slaves, and that I will never hereafter own a slave, or any interest therein, pursuant to the President's proclamation of date -- day of --, 1865, do solemnly swear (or affirm) in the presence of Almighty God that I will henceforth faithfully protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the union of the States thereunder.

I do further proclaim and declare that such persons as shall continue hostilities against the government of the United States, or give aid and comfort to insurgents and hostile persons after notice of this proclamation, or a reasonable time shall have elapsed within which notice must be presumed, will not be entitled to the pardon offered herein; and that all persons not hereinafter excepted, and who desire the benefits of the amnesty of the government, must within -- months from the date hereof comply with the terms and take the oath herein prescribed.

The following classes of persons are excepted from the benefits of this proclamation: All who are or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate government; all who left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who shall have been military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the Congress of the United States to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States and afterwards aided in the rebellion; all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons or white persons in charge of such otherwise than lawfully and prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in other capacity; all persons who are absentees from the United States because of the rebellion; all persons who held the pretended offices of governors of States in insurrection against the United States; all persons who were on of.........., 1861, residents of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, California, Oregon, and the Territories not declared in insurrection, and who, after that time, voluntarily left their homes and joined in said rsbellion, or gave aid and comfort thereto; all persons who have been engaged in the destruction of the commerce of the United States upon the high seas under the pretext of aiding the rebellion; all persons who have made raids into the United States from Canada, or been engaged in destroying the commerce of the United States upon the lakes and rivers that separate Canda from the United States; and all persons who may have sold or otherwise disposed of their slaves to prevent their becoming free.

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