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J. Hubley Ashton to James M. Carlisle, 17 October 1866

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October 17, 1866. To James M. Carlisle, Esq. Washington. Sir: Before pronouncing on the petition of Peter Targarona "for pardon, & remission of forfeiture," the Attorney General would like to hear the views of the party's counsel upon several points which appear, upon a cursory examination, to be involved in the case. Targarona was the owner of a steamer "Capital," during a period when it was in the military employment of the insurgent forces. The boat was seized & libelled in the proper U. S. Court, was bonded by the claimant, & before the final decree, was lost by disaster. The Court condemned the property, & decreed the payment of its appraised value in conformity to the stipulations of the bond. The object of Targarona now is to procure such Executive interposition as shall exonerate him & his sureties from the payment imposed by the decree. The prosecution was had under the confiscation law of 6th August 1861, in which property tainted by certain disloyal acts of owners, is made "lawful subject of prize & capture," (12. Stats. 319.) Targarona intervened at the trial, denying the material allegations, & asserting continuous loyalty, while the evidence does not seem to have proved his voluntary service in aid of the rebellion. The statute cited imparts no additional power of remission to the Executive, while the general power of mitigation given in the subsequent Act for the Confiscation, etc. of 17 July, 1862, (12 Stats. 592.S13,) is by way of proclamation. Other powers of remission of penal forfeitures, given by statute, are mostly for revenue, or criminal cases. The following considerations seem to arise: 1: The particular executive power of interference invoked by this petition. 2: If there be such a power, whether the exercise of it must not be predicated on guilt in the petitioner, subsisting at the time. 3: Whether in the personal history of this petitioner, there have been guilty acts, not heretofore amnestied, by general proclamation, which may enter into this question. 4: Whether, & in what manner & degree, the fact of a definitive sentence of condemnation & forfeiture by a Court of competent jurisdiction, should affect whatever power of remission the party invokes for his relief. Very respectfully Your obd't serv't, J. Hubley Ashton, Ass't. Att'y. Gen'l.
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