appended that are not immoral, illegal, or inconsistent with the pardon. This great and sovereign power of mercy can never be used as a cover for immoral or illegal conduct.
As a pardon presupposes that an offense has been committed, and ever acts upon the past, the power to grant it never can be exerted as an immunity or license for future misdoing.
A pardon procured by fraud or for a fraudulent purpose, upon the suppression of the truth or the suggestion of falsehood, is void. It is a deed of mercy, given without other fee or reward than the good faith, truth, and repentance of the culprit. On the other hand, as an act of grace freely given, when obtained without falsehood, fraud, and for no fraudulent use, it should be liberally construed in favor of the repentant offender.
A promise to pardon is not a pardon, and may at any time be withdrawn; but a pardon may be offered, and the offer kept open, and thus be continuing, so that the person to whom it is offered may accept it at a future day. After the pardon has been accepted it becomes a valid act, and the person receiving it is entitled to all its benefits.
The principles hereinbefore stated forbid, however, that an offer of pardon be construed as a license or indulgence to commit continuing or future offenses, or as giving immunity from the consequences of such offenses.
After the offender shall have received notice of the offer, or after a reasonable time shall have elapsed within which he must be presumed to have received notice of the offer, he cannot continue his ill-doing and then accept and rely upon the offer of pardon as an indemnity against what he did before and also what he did after notice. Such a construction of the pardoning power would virtually convert it into a power to license crime.
The high and necessary power of extending pardon and amnesty can never be rightfully exercised so as to enable the President to say to offenders against the law, "I now offer you a free pardon for the past; or at any future day when you shall, from baffled hops, or after being foiled in dangerous and bloody enterprises, think proper to accept, I will give you a pardon for the then past."
When men have offended against the law their appeal is for mercy, not for justice. In this country and under this Government violators of the law have offended against a law of their own making; out of their own mouths they are condemned--convicted by their own judgments--and, under a law of their own making, they cannot appear before the seat of mercy and arrogantly claim the fulfillment of a promise of pardon they have refused and defied.
The excellence of mercy and charity in a national trouble like ours ought not to be undervalued. Such feelings should be fondly cherished and studiously cultivated. When brought into action they should be generously but wisely indulged. Like all the great, necessary, and useful powers in nature or in government, harm may come of their improvident use, and perils which seem past may be renewed, and other and new dangers be precipitated. By a too extended, thoughtless, or unwise kindness the man or the government may warm into life an adder that will requite that kindness by a fatal sting from a poisonous fang.
Keeping in view these obvious and fundamental principles that fix and limit the powers of pardon and amnesty under the Constitution and the law, I will proceed to consider the questions propounded by