Civil War Presidential Pardon by Andrew Johnson for Perry M. Shipley
Washington DC: 14 October 1865. Unbound. Two partially printed pages plus the original mailing envelope addressed to Maryland Congressman Charles E. Phelps (a Medal of Honor recipient) for delivery to his constituent, Perry M. Shipley. The Pardon measures approximately 23.5" x 17.5" unfolded. It bears an official embossed Presidential Seal and the hand-stamped signature of President Johnson. (Be very wary of signatures that are claimed to be by Andrew Johnson. Johnson's hand was badly crippled in an 1857 Georgia train crash and almost always used a steel engraved facsimile handstamp signature for official documents. Of those documents bearing a handwritten signature, some experts have estimated less than 1% were actually signed by him and over 99% were signed by a secretary.)
The Pardon is cosigned by F. W. Seward as the Acting Secretary of State. Frederick, William Seward's son, had been severely injured defending his already incapacitated father on the evening of Lincoln's assassination when Lewis, Powell, on of John Wilkes Booth's consipirators, attempted to kill him. He was probably still recovering when he signed this Pardon.
The Pardon has unusually full margins as most were cut and trimmed to fit into frames. Exceptionally clean. No tape, No stains. Dark printing and legible manuscript entities. Sharply embossed seal. The transmittal envelope is emblazoned "From the President of the United States" and bears a manuscript "Free" frank along with a circular Washington, DC postmark.
It reads in part
“Whereas, Perry M. Shipley of Howard County, Maryland by taking part in the late rebellion against the Government of the United States has made himself liable to heavy pains and penalties; And whereas, the circumstances of his case render him a proper object of Executive clemency; . . . I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises, divers other good and sufficient reasons . . . do hereby grant . . . a full pardon and amnesty for all offences by him committed arising from participation , direct or implied, in the said rebellion. . ..”. Very good. Item #009741
Before President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated shortly after the Civil War ended, he had already issued 64 Presidential Pardons to former Confederates. When Andrew Johnson assumed the Presidency, it was first assumed that he would issue pardons as freely as his predecessor. That, however, was not the case initially. However, after reflecting upon Lincoln’s desire for post-war reconciliation and the Acting Secretary of State William Seward’s leniency toward former Rebels, he soon began to do so.
Frederick Seward, William Seward's son, had been severely injured defending his already incapacitated father on the evening of Lincoln's assassination when Lewis Powell, one of John Wilkes Booth's conspirators, attempted to kill him. He was probably still recovering when he signed this Pardon.
While loyalty oaths signed by former Confederates before various officials regularly appear for sale and at auction, Presidential Pardons, like this one, are far more scarce. At the time of listing, there are no Presidential Pardons for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub shows that only seven similar Johnson/Seward Presidential Pardons have been sold at auction in the last 125 years. OCLC shows that only ten similar Johnson/Seward Presidential Pardons reside in institutional collections.