Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Joseph Holt [1]

Executive Mansion
Judge Advocate General Washington, Feb. 17. 1865

In regard to the Baltimore and Washington Merchants---clothes dealers---convicted mostly on the testimony of one Worsley (I believe) I have not been quite satisfied. I can not say that the presumption in favor of their innocence has not been shaken; and yet it is very unsatisfactory to me that so many men of fair character should be convicted principally on the testimony of one single man & he of not quite fair character. It occurs to me that they have suffered enough, even if guilty, and enough for example I propose giving them a jubilee, in which course the Sec. of War inclines to concur; but he tells me you are opposed. I write this to ask your cheerful concurrence. Yours truly

A. LINCOLN

Annotation

[1]   ALS, owned by Joseph H. Rose, Pasadena, California. See Lincoln to Holt, January 19, supra. On February 11, Lincoln seems to have written a further memorandum on the case of Thomas W. Johnson and others, but the text is not available (offered for sale, Chicago Book & Art Auctions Catalog 45, November 27, 1934, No. 134---memorandum attached to petition of Baltimore merchants and letter of J. W. Garrett, concerning release of Johnson and R. M. Sutton).

Holt replied to Lincoln's letter of February 17 on the same day: ``I certainly have no disposition to oppose the impulses of your kind heart, in the matter referred to in your note just received. In a conversation with the Secty of War this morning, I said, in allusion to your anticipated action, that I thought the sentence resting in large part on a finding of guilt of attempt to bribe an officer of the government, might, in the exercise of your clemency, be well distinguished from the other cases in which no such criminality was averred. . . .'' (DLC-RTL).

On February 18, Stanton wrote and Assistant Adjutant General Edward D. Townsend signed, the following order pardoning Thomas W. Johnson, Robert M. Sutton, and eight other merchants of Baltimore who had been sentenced toPage  304 from one to five years' imprisonment and fines of $1,000 to $15,000: ``The President directs that in consideration of the punishment already undergone by the persons specified in the foregoing list (except Moses Weisenfeldt) they be released from further imprisonment during their good behaviour under these respective sentences, and that the fines stand as security for their good behavior and that they engage in no illicit trade nor furnish any aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States and hold no intercourse with them during the war.'' (DNA WR RG 94, Adjutant General, Letters Received, P 269).