1861 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Pardon
My grandmother's grandfather was a topographical engineer for the U.S. Army, and he was also friends with Abraham Lincoln.
And his children played with Abraham Lincoln's children. He was a general in the Union Army and was killed at Chancellorsville, and Abraham Lincoln came to his funeral as a friend. This ended up in my grandmother's estate. APPRIASER: That's absolutely remarkable. So how would it have come into your ancestor's possession in the first place?
I wish I could tell you that. APPRIASER: A mystery.
It is a mystery.
It's a pardon to get a man out of prison.
Was the prisoner a relative of yours?
Uh, no, he was not.
Who was he?
That I do not know.
So it starts out, this is all in secretarial hand, of course. Abraham Lincoln, it's an 1861 presidential pardon of a prisoner, Charles de Villier, for good behavior and the fact that he had never committed an offense previously. President Lincoln granted him a pardon. He was sentenced originally to 18 months in prison and served six months of that prison sentence before President Lincoln pardoned him. I'd like to turn the document over so we can continue and see the rest of it.
Of course, it's almost easier to see the presidential seal from the back side here that's blotted all over it. The pardon continues down on the second page of the document, and then again, as I already said, the entire document is written in a secretarial hand, but here is the authentic hand-signed signature of President Abraham Lincoln, and then the Secretary of State witnessing the presidential pardon. It's just a living, breathing piece of our American history. I believe that your signed Abraham Lincoln presidential pardon document would be, at retail, worth between $12,000 to $15,000.
Wow, that's great! That's exciting.
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, one Charles de Villier was indicted and convicted for obtaining goods under false pretences [sic], and was by the said Court sentenced to be imprisoned in the Penitentiary for the period of eighteen months;
And whereas, the said Charles de Villier has now served out more than six months of his said term of imprisonment, and it appears from the certificate of the Deputy Warden of the Penitentiary that "he has been uniformly obedient and faithful to every duty" in the institution;
And whereas, it appears that this was the first offence of the said Charles de Villiers, and that previous to its commission he had borne a good character and followed a lawful and reputable occupation;
And whereas, a large number of highly respectable citizens of the District of Columbia have earnestly brought me to extend the Executive clemency to the said Charles de Villier.
Now therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises, divers other good and sufficient reasons me thereunto moving have granted and do hereby grant unto him the said Charles de Villier a full pardon on condition that he leave the District of Columbia within thirty days and do not return to the same within five years from the date hereof.
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 Twenty eighth day of October, A.D. 1861, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty sixth.
By the President
William H. Seward
Secretary of State.
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