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No. 137

Proclamation of Amnesty

December 8, 1863

The proclamation of December 8, 1863, offering amnesty on conditions, was issued under authority of the so-called Confiscation Act of July 17, 1862 (No. 132). In his annual message of the same date, Lincoln urged the propriety of the proclamation, and expressed the opinion "that nothing is attempted beyond what is amply justified by the Constitution.” A supplementary proclamation of March 26, 1864, explained that the previous proclamation did not apply to prisoners of war.

REFERENCES. Text in U.S. Statutes at Large, XIII., Appendix, vii-ix. A circular to United States district attorneys is in McPherson, Rebellion, 148, 149.

[THE proclamation begins with a statement of the constitutional right of the President to grant pardons, of the existence of rebellion in certain States, of the authorization of pardon by proclamation under the Confiscation Act, and of the previous issuance of proclamations “in regard to the liberation of slaves,” and continues:) and

Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and to reinaugurate loyal state governments within and for their respective states: Therefore

I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit: "I,

do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of congress passed during the existing

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rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by congress, or by decision of the supreme court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the supreme court. So help me God.”

The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina,' a number of persons, not less than one tenth in number of the votes cast in such state at the presidential election ... [of 1860] ..., each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the state existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall reestablish a state government which shall be republican, and in nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true government of the state, and the state shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that "the United States shall guaranty to every state in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them

· The omission of Virginia is explained by the fact that Lincoln had already recognized the so-called Pierpont government.

- ED.

against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence."

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision which may be adopted by such state government in relation to the freed people of such state, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent as a temporary arrangement with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive.

And it is suggested as not improper that, in constructing a loyal state government in any state, the name of the state, the boundary, the subdivisions, the constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made necessary by the conditions hereinbefore stated, and such others, if any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be deemed expedient by those framing the new state government.

To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it relates to state governments, has no reference to states wherein loyal state governments have all the while been maintained. And, for the same reason, it may be proper to further say, that whether members sent to congress from any state shall be admitted to seats constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective houses, and not to any extent with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the states wherein the national authority has been suspended, and loyal state governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal state governments may be reëstablished within said states, or in any of them; and, while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest, with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.

No. 138. National Bank Act


June 3, 1864 THE beginning of the present national bank system is to be found in the act "to provide a national currency, secured by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof," approved February 25, 1863. This act, however, proved defective, and the comptroller of the currency, in a report accompanying the annual report of the Secretary of the Treasury, December 10, 1863, made numerous suggestions for amendment. A bill with the same title as the existing act was reported in the House, March 14, by Hooper of Massachusetts, from the Committee of Ways and Means, and after protracted discussion was laid on the table by a vote of 90 to 44. Another bill with similar title was introduced by Hooper April 11, and passed the House on the 18th by a vote of 80 to 66. A bill to the same effect had been introduced in the Senate, April 8, by John Sherman of Ohio, and referred to the Committee on Finance, which, on the 21st, reported the House bill with amendments. The amended bill passed the Senate May 11, by a vote of 30 to 9. The House disagreed to the Senate amendments, and the bill received its final form from a conference committee, whose report was accepted by the houses June 1.

REFERENCES. Text in U.S. Statutes at Large, XIII., 99-118. Only the most important parts of the act are given below. The act has been many times amended; editions showing the various changes are issued from time to time by the comptroller of the currency. For the proceedings see the House and Senate Journals, 38th Cong., ist Sess., and the Cong. Globe, where will be found the texts of all the important amendments proposed or adopted. A comparison of Hooper's first bill with the act of February 25 will be found in the Globe, March 23. An Act to provide a National Currency, secured by a Pledge of

United States Bonds, and to provide for the Circulation and Redemption thereof.

Be it enacted . That there shall be established in the treasury department a separate bureau, which shall be charged with the execution of this and all other laws that may be passed by congress respecting the issue and regulation of a national currency secured by United States bonds. The chief officer of the said bureau shall be denominated the comptroller of the currency, and shall be under the general direction of the Secretary of the Treasury. He shall be appointed by the President, on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and shall hold

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his office for the term of five years unless sooner removed by the President, upon reasons to be communicated by him to the Senate. ... The comptroller and deputy-comptroller shall not, either directly or indirectly, be interested in any association issuing national currency under the provisions of this act.

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SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That associations for carrying on the business of banking may be formed by any number of persons, not less in any case than five, who shall enter into articles of association, which shall specify in general terms the object for which the association is formed, and may contain any other provisions, not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, which the association may see fit to adopt for the regulation of the business of the association and the conduct of its affairs, which said articles shall be signed by the persons uniting to form the association, and a copy of them forwarded to the comptroller of the currency, to be filed and preserved in his office.

* Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That no association shall be organized under this act, with a less capital than one hundred thousand dollars, nor in a city whose population exceeds fifty thousand persons, with a less capital than two hundred thousand dollars: Provided, That banks with a capital of not less than fifty thousand dollars may, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, be organized in any place the population of which does not exceed six thousand inhabitants."

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That every association formed pursuant to the provisions of this act shall from the date of the execution of its organization certificate, be a body corporate, but shall transact no business except such as may be incidental to its organization and necessarily preliminary, until authorized by the comptroller of the currency to commence the business of banking. Such association shall have power to adopt a corporate seal, and shall have succession by the name designated in its organization certificate, for the period of twenty years from its organization, unless sooner dissolved according to the provisions of its articles of association, or by the act of its shareholders owning two

1 See act of March 14, 1900, section 10. — - ED.

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