INDIVIDUAL AMNESTY PETITIONS TO PRESIDENT ANDREW JOHNSON FOR A PARDON BY MEN WHO WERE LEADERS OF NORTH CAROLINA’S SECESSION, REPRESENTATIVES IN THE REBEL CONFEDERATE OR STATE GOVERNMENTS, OFFICIALS IN REBEL GOVERNANCE OR HAD PROPERTY WORTH $20,000 OR MORE.
In 1865, the petition for pardons process in North Carolina was for all qualifying men to petition the President of the United States, file it with the Governor of North Carolina to read and recommend and then a final action by the President. Most men who were required to file petitions were deeply worried about their fate, as their appeals reflect. Many of them were lawyers and a larger number retained other lawyers to write and shepard the desposition of their pardon application. Their written statements, in totality, are one of our most important sources for information about their views and actions. Readers need to keep in mind that at the time of their submission of these petitions they had little control over their fragile and unknown future. Andrew Johnson had sworn, to anyone who would listen, that the rebel leaders of secession and war would be punished severly. He, and many members of the United States Congress, openly blamed the wealthiest, slaveholding men of the South for the deaths of some 620,000 people, massive destruction of property in all sections, and a needless waste of a substantial part of nation’s wealth. As the writing of petitions began it appeared that justice would be driven by an eye for eye standard.
The order in which men appear, in the list below, is roughly based on the power and influence they exercised in bringing about North Carolina’s secession, joining of the Confederacy and participation in the war from 1861 through 1865.
The 120 men who, on May 21, 1861, signed the North Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession, an event of much pomp and circumstance, are the people primarily responsible for the official actions, listed above, by the Old North State.
THE PETITION OF WELDON EDWARDS FOR PARDON FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ANDREW JOHNSON. Weldon Edwards, Wealthy Warren County Planter, was President of both the secessionist Goldboro Convention [22-24 March 1861] and the 1861 North Carolina Secession Convention [20 May 1861 – September, 1862] held in the House of Commons in Raleigh, NC.
5 JULY 1865.
PROV. GOVERNOR W.W. Holden’s Recommentation to Pres. Johnson:
“Mr. Edwards has been a “great sinner.” He was President of the Goldsborough Convention called in March, 1861, to force the state out of the Union by violence, after the people had voted the month [February, 1961] before by 30,000 majority not to secede [actually, it was by less than a thousand]. But he appears to be very penitent, and I learn is setting a good example of redemption in Warren County. Whether he is pardoned at all should depend upon the events of the future. Meanwhile, I advise that his case be suspended,” William W. Holden, Provisional Governor of North Carolina; May to December, 1865.