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[Source: Atlas Editions; Civil War Cards]


Even while the Civil War was in progress, the federal government offered amnesty to Confederate citizens in an attempt to encourage loyalty to the Union and to begin the process of reconstruction. The Confiscation Act of 1862 authorized the president of the United States to pardon anyone involved in the rebellion. The Amnesty Proclamation of December 8, 1863, offered pardons to those who had not held a Confederate civil office, had not mistreated Union prisoners, and would sign an oath of allegiance. Another limited amnesty that targeted Southern civilians came into effect on May 26, 1864.

On April 9th 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant, the men and officers were allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside. This stipulation allowed Confederate soldiers to return to their homes without the threat of trials for treason.

On May 29, 1865, President Andrew Johnson provided for amnesty and the return of property to those who would take an oath of allegiance. However, former Confederate government officials, officers with the rank of colonel and above from the Confederate army or lieutenant and above from the Confederate navy, and people owning more than $20,000 worth of property had to apply for individual pardons. Though it was difficult for ex-Confederates to ask for a pardon for something they did not believe had been wrong, thousands did ask for and receive amnesty from President Johnson.

On Christmas Day 1868, Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all Civil War participants except high-ranking military and civil officials. In May 1872 the Congressional Amnesty Act gave the right to hold office again to almost all Southern leaders who had been excluded from public office by the 14th Amendment.


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14TH AMENDMENT

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United states and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a State, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as a executive or judicial office of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or give aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House remove such disability.
Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5.
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.




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