to classes of individuals are solely in the hands of the President. It is, therefore, needless to discuss the question whether the act of Congress was necessary in order to enable the President lawfully to issue a proclamation of pardon and amnesty.
The power of exercising and extending mercy resides in some department of every well-ordered government. When order and peace reign its exercise is frequent and its influence valuable. Its influence is of value inestimable at the termination of an insurrection so widespread as the one which in our country is just being suppressed. Its appropriate office is to soothe and heal, not to keep alive or to initiate the rebellious and malignant passions that induced, precipitated, and sustained the insurrection. Theirs power to soothe and heal is appropriately vested in the Executive Department of the Government, whose duty it is to recognize and declare the existence of an insurrection, to suppress it by force, and to proclaim its suppression. In order, then, that this benign power of the Government should accomplish the objects for which it was given, the extent and limits of the power should be clearly understood. Therefore, before proceeding to answer the questions propounded in your letter, it would seem to be eminently proper to state some of the obvious principles upon which the power to grant pardons and amnesty rests, and deduce from those principles the limitation of that power.
The words amnesty and pardon have a usual and well-understood meaning. Neither is defined in any act of Congress; the latter is not used in the Constitution.
A pardon is a remission of guilt; and amnesty is an act of oblivion or forgetfulness.
They are acts of sovereign mercy and grace, flowing from the appropriate organ of the Government.
There can be no pardon where there is no actual or imputed guilt. The acceptance of a pardon is a confession of guilt or of the existence of a state of facts from which a judgment of guilt would follow.
A pardon may be absolute and complete or it may be conditional or partial. The whole penalty denounced by the law against an offender may be forgiven, or so much of it only as may seem expedient. The power to pardon is not exhausted by its partial use. A part of the penalty may be forgiven now, and at a future time another part, and so on till the whole is forgiven. This power may be so used as to place the offender upon trial and probation as to his good faith and purposes.
A pardon may be upon conditions, and those conditions may be precedent or subsequent.
The conditions, however, appended to a pardon cannot be immoral, illegal, or inconsistent with the pardon.
If a condition precedent annexed to a pardon be immoral, so that the person in whose favor it is issued should never speak the truth; or illegal, so that he should commit murder; or inconsistent with the pardon, so that he should never eat or sleep, the pardon would never attach or be of avail. On the other hand, if those conditions were subsequent-that is, if it were declared that the pardon should be void if the party ever spoke the truth, or if he did not commit murder, or if he should eat or sleep-the pardon would attach and be valid, and the condition void and of no effect. If a condition subsequent is broken, the offender could be tried and punished for the original offense. The breach of the condition would make the pardon void. Any conditions, precedent or subsequent, may, therefore, be