In Whitman's Hand

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Title: John M. Binckley to Francis Bugbee, 6 December 1867

Date: December 6, 1867

Whitman Archive ID: nar.00334

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger

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December 6, 1867.

Francis Bugbee, Esq.

United States Attorney, Northern Dist.

Montgomery, Ala.


It appears that on the 29th January, 1866, a warrant was issued by the President for the pardon of Bryce Wilson of Alabama, and that on the 4th March of the same year, a proceeding was instituted for the condemnation of his property under the confiscation laws. The institution of such proceedings against persons known to be pardoned, is irregular. If such a suit is now pending in your District, you are hereby directed to move its dismissal at the earliest practicable moment. The proceeding in this case was instituted by your predecessor L. D. Smith, by whose memorandum, over his own signature, which has been submitted to the Attorney General, it is disclosed that his action was founded on the unreasonable ground that the oath of amnesty, which the President required Mr. Wilson to take, and report, was taken before a Notary Public, and bore date the day after his letter of acceptance of pardon. Mr. Smith himself notes the fact that the Secretary of State had duly certified the receipt at his Department, of the oath and acceptance of pardon, with its conditions,— and consequently, the consummation of the President's clemency,— under date of the 17th March, a few days after the institution of the suit. He also notes the fact that before the institution of the suit, on the 21st February, the Secretary had certified the receipt of the party's acceptance of pardon.

The objection to the administration of the oath by a Notary Public, is, that Notaries Public are not designated among those who may perform that duty, in the regulations subjoined to the President's Proclamation by the Secretary of State. But the Secretary himself had competently,waived such a defect, if it could be so called, after which it was unbecoming in the Attorney of the United States to question his action and prescribe additional terms and conditions for the clemency of the Executive, before performing his duty to "dismiss the case without costs"; a failure to satisfy such new requirements to be punished by keeping alive the unlawful prosecution until "disposed of an a plea of pardon, filed in court, and payment of costs."

Very respectfully,

your obedient serv't,

John M. Binckley,

Assistant Attorney Gen'l.


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