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Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction

The 1863 Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction


Abraham Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863 at the height of the US Civil War. This proclamation applied to all Confederate lands that the Union forces occupied at that point. The point of the Lincoln's proclamation was to set out how to restore the Confederate states and their citizens to the union once the civil war had ended. Text of Proclamation Following is a portion of the proclamation that includes the important points that need to be remembered from this document:
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:–

"I, ____________, do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by congress, or by decision of the supreme court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the supreme court. So help me God." The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one tenth in number of the votes cast in such state at the presidential election of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the state existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall reëstablish a state government which shall be republican, and in nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true government of the state, and the state shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that "the United States shall guaranty to every state in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence."

Major Points of Proclamation
  1. Almost any Confederates would be pardoned if the swore allegiance to the US Constitution and the union.
  2. The only individuals who would be excluded from the pardon would be high-ranking civil and military leaders and those committed of war crimes.
  3. Once 10% of voters in a Confederate state took the oath of allegiance and organized a government that abolished slavery, that state could elect new representatives and Lincoln would recognize the state government as legitimate.

Obviously, this proclamation was important, showing that Abraham Lincoln was committed to allowing the states back into the Union. This would begin to forge the way towards healing and reunification at the end of the Civil War during the period of Reconstruction.

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