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J. Hubley Ashton to Andrew Johnson, 31 July 1865

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Attorney General's Office, July 31, 1865. To the President: Sir: On the 22d inst. you referred to this office an application addressed to you by Senators Cowan and Buckalew of Pennsylvania, on behalf of thirty six persons, citizens of Cambria and Clearfield Counties, Penn., indicted in the Western District of that state for conspiracy to resist the draft ordered on the 20th of September last, asking you to direct judgments of nol. pros. to be entered in all of those cases. You requested the Attorney General to furnish you all the information in his possession touching those cases, and to give you his opinion on the question of the propriety of granting this application. No information whatever being in the possession of this office, the District Attorney was directed to furnish a report of the facts of the cases, and his views as to the disposition proper to be made of the prosecutions. His report is now before me. It appears that he had, some time before, receiving the letter of the Attorney General, dismissed the proceedings against fourteen of these parties, for reasons that appear to be entirely just and adequate. The District Attorney thinks that all of the remaining cases embraced in the indictments, except six, stand on the same footing as the fourteen in which the prosecutions have been already dismissed, and he recommends their dismissal also. All the parties except the six named by the Distric Attorney, seem to have been poor and ignorant men who were guilty of no overt act whatever, but whose guilt consists simply in membership of an unlawful association into which they were drawn by political and designing leaders. These parties also, it would seem, have been in the hands of the military authorities,—and suffered, before they were turned over to the civil authorities, considerable imprisonment. The only men of all those indicted about whose cases there would seem to be any diffculty, are the following: Daniel Goodlander, John M. Krise, David & James McCullough, James McKee, & William Cox. The District Attorney says: "the last four are deserters and desperados, who did much mischief. Krise and Goodlander are very bad men; the former a rebel emissary, and the latter a man of large influence, exerted in a most mischievous direction." I am of opinion therefore that the District Attorney may properly be instructed to nol. pros. all of the pending prosecutions except those against the six men above named. Very respectfully Your obedient servant, J. Hubley Ashton, Acting Attorney General.
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