Historical Documents

Presidential Proclamation of Pardon and Amnesty

Marvin J. Summerfield -- Language Editor

Editor's Note: We are printing President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Pardon to the Cherokee Nation after the civil war.

Courtesy of the Gilgrease Museum of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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English Translation
Translated by Anna and Jack Kilpatrick
Made Public by the President of the United States

It is true, that the government's constitution allows the President to pardon those who have wronged the U. S. Government. If they have been arrested by the use of paper, then it is against the law to pardon them.

It is true, a war against our central government is now here. That's the reason the representatives of our states and the work of the state's government have been turned over (in turmoil) for a long time. There are more people who are against our government and those are with me are obligated to punish them.

During this war between states laws have been passed against those who fought us. Those who own workers (slaves) are to let them go.
The President made it evident that this was handed to him and it started at once (law) though it was some time later when it was published. What the judges have decided makes sense. The President had the power to pardon. He has published that all slaves are to be freed. All who were members in the war between states and those who were in the war against the central government need to take new stand. They are to take part in our own government. The reason is:

I, Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, have told them and I speak to all of those who were in the war against states. They are the only ones who worked, they are known as followers. They must not hate the rest of them, as dividuals, they must pledge to this. Those who pledge must sign their names. From then on, love must be in their hearts. That is the way to be for those who pledge on the long paper, that is to be preserved (filed away). [and this what they say when they pledge:] repeated later.

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, am making known by speech to all who took part in the War against the states. Those who worked can be identified as well as those who followed. Don't let what is written below be unpleasant. For each and everyone I have given pardon. What was theirs in the past, I have made it theirs the second time_________. If those individuals who will pledge or those who have pledged will write their names, from then on they must live in friendship and love. That's what the pledge says in the long paper that is preserved and this is what the pledge or oath is:

"The beloved oath I now take, witnessed by God whose knowledge and strength is unbound. That from now on, without deceit I'm to be a part of it (the nation), aid it, and be included by the United States Government laws, and must obey those in the command of the laws. In the same way and without deceit, I'll obey all the laws of this nation that were passed since the war (that which was against slavery) until they (laws) are repealed, or changed, or made void (useless) by the council or the delegates, and what the Supreme court judges."
Now that this has been published or made known, you are not to dislike it. Neither are the past workers that I pardoned from all of the districts, nor the delegates from the other districts where the law is known; and the freed judges of the United States Government, those who are on the outside and are against the government judges, those who caused the war against the United States Government, I speak to them. (Also I include those that were the bravest who fought in water and those who fought on land.) Also I include those who aided in the war against the government, the blacks and of the whites who had slaves.

Now that we have published, spoken and have made it known what has been wrong in the different districts or states such as Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma [territory?], Georgia (at Seminole, Florida probably), North Carolina, South Carolina. These states elected a president in the year 1860. In those states as many as could voted (spoke). Usually there were as many as ten in one group, and these were only those who had pledged. Those who quit later and have not pledged and did not try to be free, there in the state where they reside the law speaks (in their behalf) if there is any fighting during election. All of them have been counted now and they will be made into a state. As states are formed, the many (people) will be given the power to do the work of the state and they must not forget the oath they have taken. The state will own the districts. The government is watching the towns so they must follow the laws as they are. In the towns there are many who are responsible for the law. The states are to be helped by the government and protected if attacked, or if a meeting place for the delegates is needed, they are to be helped-but their own people must work with great effort.

I will make known soon something about what the states should do about taxing those who live there-if they do that they will be given grace, then they can survive. These people must be workers, owners of land, and owners of homes. If they do this they need not give up to the nation but rather they become a part of the nation. Form the states according to what has happened-all the land must be surveyed according to the United States Government law. The law as it was before the nation was rebelled against. If you will model after that law then it will be right. The written law should be charged only if the nation (people) change it.

So that it will not be misunderstood I have had to say this.

Let's not be in disagreement in the territories but get right behind your state just as the people of the United States get behind their government, for the same reason.

This publication had made known of the territories' forming into states. I have not forgotten the territories. Those that are states already I encourage constantly to get behind the territories. It becomes necessary that I repeat this; some territories have sent delegates. Those delegates who are in the upper and lower (houses?) have the power to speak, or maybe not. Now that this has been published and this is what it has tried to point out: there in the states, the town chief's do not know that so much is in upheaval. The chiefs of the states are responsible for what happens in aiding the reconstruction of the states. What is written must be done, it is up to the chief's to follow what's written with understanding. Let it not be misunderstood. They may be saying let's do differently-we are not going to approve. It seems we are not watchful.

I used my own hand to write this, here in the town of Washington, now this 8th day of December in the year 1863, and since the forming of the United States Government 88 (years?)

I, Bill SuWati
Abraham Lincoln
Chief Ass't to the President