Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Petition for Pardon of Jesse E. Massie [1]

The Governor of the State of Missouri August 1837

The Undersigned Citizens of the County of Sangamon would most respectfully represent, that in the early part of 1836,

Page  88Massie a citizen of this county, of very respectable connexions and as many of us know, and all of us believe heretofore of good character and conduct, was convicted in the St. Louis Circuit Court of the crime of larceny, uppon three indictments for stealing property of very trivial value, and was sentenced to the Penitentiary for six years where he has ever since been confined. We are unwilling from the circumstances of the transaction to attach deliberate guilt to his conduct. The articles, were (as we are informed) alleged to have been taken from a steamboat on which he was employed---he was no doubt intoxicated. The hands---who were witnesses and himself had quarrelled, and he was taken into custody asleep and in liquor within a few steps of the boat, the property was in his trunk by his side---such we are informed were the circumstances. He was tried as appears from the record within a very few days of his arrest, without the presence of his friends---not without enemies, without means to employ counsel, and destitute of the knowledge to conduct a defence if innocent.

We incline to believe, from his friends---his early associations the manner in which he has been brought up, his previous fair character, and from the facts to which we have alluded---that he has been more imprudent than guilty and more unfortunate than criminal. But if guilty he has suffered a long confinement, and we most respectfully suggest that he is [rendered?] by the uncertainty of his guilt and the certainty of his punishment, a fit subject for the exercise of that clemency, which your excellency---is so happy as to be able to apply. We are very Respy Your obt Servants


[1]   DS, Missouri State Archives. Lincoln was one of fifty-five signers. Endorsements on the document indicate that a pardon was issued March 8, 1838.