List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the President of the United States
The following list of people pardoned or granted clemency by the President of the United States lists notable cases of each presidency.
In accordance with the Constitution (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1), Presidents are vested "power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." The President exercises broad authority, in granting pardons, beyond the specific stipulations of the Constitution's prose encompassing instead the spirit of its framers intent. For example, the President can issue a full pardon; reversing a criminal conviction as if it never happened. The President can instead, commute a criminal sentence, lessening its severity, its duration, or both while leaving a record of the conviction in place. The President can make a pardon conditional, or vacate a conviction while leaving parts of the sentence in place, like the payment of fines or restitution. U.S. Presidents have no power to grant clemency for crimes prosecuted under state law.
Approximately 20,000 pardons and commutations were issued by U.S. presidents in the 20th century alone. Pardons granted by Presidents from George Washington until Grover Cleveland's first term were hand written by the President; thereafter, pardons were prepared for the President by administration staff requiring only that the President sign it. The records of these Presidential acts were openly available for public inspection until 1934. In 1981 the Office of the Pardon Attorney was created and records from President George H. W. Bush forward are now listed. This list includes pardons and commutations of various notable subjects or historically significant people.
- 1 George Washington
- 2 John Adams
- 3 Thomas Jefferson
- 4 James Madison
- 5 James Monroe
- 6 John Quincy Adams
- 7 Andrew Jackson
- 8 Martin Van Buren
- 9 William Henry Harrison
- 10 John Tyler
- 11 James K. Polk
- 12 Zachary Taylor
- 13 Millard Fillmore
- 14 Franklin Pierce
- 15 James Buchanan
- 16 Abraham Lincoln
- 17 Andrew Johnson
- 18 Ulysses S. Grant
- 19 Rutherford B. Hayes
- 20 James Garfield
- 21 Chester A. Arthur
- 22 Grover Cleveland
- 23 Benjamin Harrison
- 24 William McKinley
- 25 Theodore Roosevelt
- 26 William Howard Taft
- 27 Woodrow Wilson
- 28 Warren Harding
- 29 Calvin Coolidge
- 30 Herbert Hoover
- 31 Franklin D. Roosevelt
- 32 Harry Truman
- 33 Dwight D. Eisenhower
- 34 John F. Kennedy
- 35 Lyndon B. Johnson
- 36 Richard Nixon
- 37 Gerald Ford
- 38 Jimmy Carter
- 39 Ronald Reagan
- 40 George H. W. Bush
- 41 Bill Clinton
- 42 George W. Bush
- 43 Barack Obama
- 44 Donald Trump
- 45 See also
- 46 References
- Philip Vigol (or Wigle) and John Mitchel, convicted of treason for their roles in the Whiskey Rebellion
- David Bradford, for his role in the Whiskey Rebellion
- John Fries, for his role in Fries's Rebellion; convicted of treason due to opposition to a tax; Fries and others were pardoned, and a general amnesty was issued for everyone involved.
Democratic-Republican President Thomas Jefferson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 119 people. One of his first acts upon taking office was to issue a general pardon for any person convicted under the Sedition Act. Among them are:
- David Brown – convicted of sedition under the Sedition Act of 1798 because of his criticism of the United States federal government, receiving the harshest sentence of anyone; pardoned along with all violators of the act.
- Benjamin Fairbanks – Convicted with Brown of erecting a Liberty Pole in Dedham, Massachusetts. He received the lightest sentence of anyone under the Act.
- William Hull – while Governor of the Michigan Territory, sentenced to death for surrendering Fort Detroit; pardoned
- Jean Lafitte and Pierre Lafitte and the Baratarian Pirates for past piracy, granted due to their assistance during the War of 1812; granted February 6, 1815.
- Numerous individuals convicted of piracy.
John Quincy Adams
- Captain L. O. Helland – arrested for having more passengers on board the vessel (Restauration) than were allowed by American law; pardoned
- Wekau and Chickhonsic – Ho-Chunk leaders pardoned for their role in the Winnebago War
- George Wilson – convicted of robbing the United States mails. Strangely, Wilson refused to accept the pardon. The case went before the Supreme Court, and in United States v. Wilson the court stated: "A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected, we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him." As such, rather than serve a sentence of 20 years Wilson was executed by hanging.
Martin Van Buren
- William Lyon Mackenzie – violation of American neutrality laws; pardoned
William Henry Harrison
Whig President William Henry Harrison was one of only two presidents who gave no pardons. This was due to his death shortly after taking office.
- Alexander William Holmes – sailor convicted of voluntary manslaughter (U.S. v. Holmes); pardoned
James K. Polk
- John C. Frémont – convicted by court martial of mutiny. Frémont later became the 1856 Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
- Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres – convicted in the Pearl incident (transporting slaves to freedom); pardoned
- Brigham Young – pardoned for role in the Utah War.
- Daniel Vandersmith – a former judge, pardoned for forgery.
- 264 of 303 Dakota Indians who attacked white settlers in the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862.
- Clement Vallandigham – Copperhead sentenced for disloyalty; sentence commuted, and deported to the Confederacy
- Various men who enlisted in the army, but who were, among other circumstances, underage, bounty jumpers, or AWOL.
Democratic President Andrew Johnson pardoned about 7,000 people in the "over $20,000" class by May 4, 1866. More than 600 prominent North Carolinians were pardoned just before the election of 1865. President Andrew Johnson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 654 people. Among them are:
- Ex-Confederates – a full and unconditional pardon and amnesty to all former Confederates of the rebellion on Christmas Day 1868, (earlier amnesties requiring signed oaths and excluding certain classes of people were issued by both Lincoln and Johnson). Among them were:
- Charles D. Anderson
- Richard H. Anderson
- Eli Metcalfe Bruce
- Horatio Washington Bruce
- Charles Clark
- Jefferson Davis
- Harris Flanagin
- Augustus Hill Garland
- Benjamin Harvey Hill
- Wade Keyes
- Enoch Louis Lowe
- Andrew Gordon Magrath
- Eugenius Aristides Nisbet
- James Byeram Owens
- Walter Preston
- James Seddon
- Alexander H. Stephens
- George Trenholm
- Samuel Arnold – charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln
- Samuel Mudd – charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln
- Edmund Spangler – charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln
Ulysses S. Grant
- Ex-Confederate leaders – All but 500 former top Confederate leaders were pardoned when President Grant signed the Amnesty Act of 1872.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Republican President James A. Garfield was one of only two presidents who gave zero pardons. This was due to his assassination shortly after taking office.
Chester A. Arthur
- Fitz John Porter – Court-martialed for his actions at Second Bull Run; sentence commuted
- James Brooks – Texas Ranger indicted for manslaughter; pardoned after lobbying from his fellow Rangers
- Rudger Clawson – convicted of polygamy; pardoned
- David King Udall – convicted on perjury charges; spent 3 months in prison; full and unconditional pardon
- "Billy Wilson" (David L. Anderson) – outlaw; pardoned
- Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Granted amnesty and pardon for the offense of engaging in polygamous or plural marriage to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
- Alexander McKenzie – contempt of court; pardoned
- Charles Chilton Moore – jailed for blasphemy; pardoned
- Servillano Aquino – received death sentence for anti-American activities in the Philippines; pardoned after 2 years
- Al Jennings – sentenced to life in prison for robbery; pardoned
- Stephen A. Douglas Puter – convicted of land fraud; pardoned after 18 months so he could turn state's evidence
William Howard Taft
- John Hicklin Hall – role in the Oregon land fraud scandal; pardoned
- Charles W. Morse – convicted of violations of federal banking laws; pardoned due to ill health (later found to be feigned)
- Captain Van Schaick – pardoned after 3 ½ years in prison for the General Slocum steamship disaster of 1904
- George Burdick – a New York newspaper editor, who had refused to testify in federal court regarding the sources used in his article concerning the collection of customs duties. He pleaded the 5th amendment; President Wilson then granted him a full pardon for all of his federal offenses, which he refused. He continued to plead the 5th, at which he was sentenced by a federal judge for contempt. It was then that the Supreme Court reinforced the necessity of accepting a pardon to be valid; the federal judge had imprisoned Burdick on the grounds that he was claiming falsely his need for protection against self-incrimination.
- Frederick Krafft – convicted for alleged violation of the Espionage Act. Only person convicted under this law to receive a full executive pardon.
- Eugene V. Debs – convicted of sedition under the Espionage Act of 1917; sentence commuted
- Kate Richards O'Hare – convicted of sedition under the Espionage Act of 1917; sentence commuted
- Marcus Garvey – convicted of mail fraud; sentence commuted and deported
- Lothar Witzke – German spy and saboteur; pardoned and deported
- Warren T. McCray – Governor of Indiana convicted of Mail Fraud; pardoned after learning of the KKK's role in his arrest and conviction
- Thomas W. Miller – conspiring to defraud the U.S. government; pardoned
Franklin D. Roosevelt
- George R. Dale – convicted of violating Prohibition laws; pardoned after the repeal of Prohibition
- Roy Olmstead – convicted for violating the National Prohibition Act; appealed, arguing that the wiretapping evidence used against him constituted a violation of his constitutional rights to privacy and against self-incrimination; U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in the landmark case of Olmstead v. United States; pardoned
- Duncan Renaldo – arrested for illegal entry into the US; pardoned
- George Caldwell – income tax evasion; pardoned
- Oscar Collazo – Collazo attempted Truman's assassination; Commuted death sentence to life sentence; also see listing under Carter
- James Michael Curley – fraud and mail fraud; pardoned
- Richard W. Leche – mail fraud; pardoned
- Andrew J. May – accepting bribes; pardoned
- Seymour Weiss – tax evasion and mail fraud; pardoned
Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Maurice L. Schick – military court-martial for brutal murder; death sentence commuted to life imprisonment, with the condition that he would never be released. Legal challenge went to the Supreme Court, questioning the constitutionality of the punishment "Life Imprisonment Without Parole". Decided in Schick v. Reed that to be so sentenced was constitutional. He was not paroled.
John F. Kennedy
- First-time offenders convicted of crimes under the Narcotics Control Act of 1956 – pardoned all, in effect overturning much of the law passed by Congress.
Lyndon B. Johnson
- Frank W. Boykin – Congressman convicted of bribery; pardoned in 1964 at the request of departing Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
- Maurice Hutcheson – contempt of Congress; pardoned
- Jimmy Hoffa – convicted of fraud and bribery – sentence commuted (with conditions) on December 23, 1971
- Angelo DeCarlo – convicted of extortion; served 3 years; pardoned due to poor health
- William Calley – convicted of murder for his involvement in the My Lai Massacre, pardoned in 1974 after serving 3 years' house arrest
- Richard Nixon – granted a full and unconditional pardon just before he could be indicted in the Watergate scandal
- Robert E. Lee – full rights of citizenship were posthumously restored
- Iva Toguri D'Aquino – "Tokyo Rose" – only U.S. citizen convicted of treason during World War II to be pardoned
- Vietnam draft dodgers – Ford offered conditional amnesty to over 50,000 draft dodgers.
- Ernest C. Brace – pardoned of his 1961 court-martial from the United States Marine Corps in light of his almost eight years as a POW in Vietnam.
- Oscar Collazo – Attempted assassination on President Harry S. Truman; commuted to time served
- G. Gordon Liddy – Watergate figure. Convicted for 20 years, commuted after serving 4½ years for conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping.
- Peter Yarrow – Singer-songwriter of Peter, Paul and Mary
- Vietnam draft dodgers – Unconditional amnesty issued in the form of a pardon
- Jefferson Davis – President of the Confederate States of America.
- Patty Hearst – Convicted of Bank Robbery; sentence commuted
- Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores Rodriguez – machine-gunning the U.S. House of Representatives and wounding five Congressmen in 1954; clemency
- Frederic B. Ingram-Heir from Tennessee, convicted of bribing government officials in Illinois; jailed for 16 months. His sentence was commuted by Carter in December 1980.
- W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller – FBI officials convicted of authorizing illegal break-ins. Mark Felt later in life admitted to being Deep Throat, the informant during the Watergate affair.
- Junior Johnson – Moonshining; pardoned
- George Steinbrenner – Was convicted of illegal Nixon campaign contributions and obstruction of justice; pardoned
- Marvin Mandel – former Governor of Maryland convicted of mail fraud and racketeering; clemency; conviction later overturned in U.S. district court.
George H. W. Bush
- For their roles in the Iran-Contra Affair
- Armand Hammer – CEO of the Occidental Petroleum Company, contributed $110,000 to the Republican National Committee just before his pardon. Pardoned for illegally contributing $54,000 to Richard Nixon's presidential campaign in 1972.
- Myra Soble – 1957 conviction for her involvement in the Rosenberg spy ring; pardoned
- Roger Clinton, Jr. – brother of Bill Clinton. After serving a year in federal prison for cocaine possession.
- Almon Glenn Braswell – convicted of mail fraud and perjury; pardoned
- Patty Hearst – Bank robbery. Prison term commuted by Jimmy Carter. She was released from prison in 1979. She was fully pardoned by Clinton in 2001.
- Marc Rich, Pincus Green – business partners; indicted by U.S. Attorney on charges of tax evasion and illegal trading with Iran.
- Dan Rostenkowski – Democrat from Illinois. Served his entire sentence, then pardoned.
- Fife Symington III – Republican Governor of Arizona convicted of bank fraud; pardoned.
- Susan McDougal – partners with Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the failed Whitewater deal. Guilty of contempt of court, she served her entire sentence and was then pardoned.
- Henry Cisneros – Clinton's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count for lying to the FBI, and was fined $10,000.
- Edward Downe, Jr. – wire fraud, filing false income tax returns, and securities fraud; pardoned
- Elizam Escobar – seditious conspiracy; pardoned
- Samuel Loring Morison – espionage and theft of government property; pardoned
- Mel Reynolds – Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives.
- Henry O. Flipper – The first black West Point cadet was found guilty of "conduct unbecoming an officer" in 1882.
- John Deutch – Director of Central Intelligence, former Provost and University Professor, MIT
- Rick Hendrick – NASCAR Team Owner & Champion; convicted of mail fraud; pardoned
- FALN – commuted the sentences of 16 members of FALN, a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group that set off 120 bombs in the United States, mostly in New York City and Chicago. The 16 were convicted of conspiracy and sedition and sentenced with terms ranging from 35 to 105 years in prison.
George W. Bush
- Lewis "Scooter" Libby – Assistant to President George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney was convicted of perjury in connection with the CIA leak scandal involving members of State Department who 'outed' CIA agent Valerie Plame. Libby received commutation, not a full pardon.
- José Compeán and Ignacio Ramos – Two US Border Patrol agents who wounded drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Dávila and tried to cover up the incident received commutation.
- Charles Winters – Posthumous pardon for smuggling three B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers to Israel in the late 1940s
- Issac Robert Toussie – Convicted of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; pardoned and the pardon revoked one day later
- John Forté – Hip-hop singer and songwriter sentenced for smuggling cocaine was commuted.
- Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 35 years in prison for providing classified documents to WikiLeaks.
- Oscar López Rivera, sentenced to 55 years in prison for seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property, and subsequently to an additional 15 years for attempted escape.
- Willie McCovey, pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1995 and received two years probation and a $5,000 fine.
- James Cartwright, pleaded guilty to giving false statements to federal investigators and was awaiting sentencing.
- "Constitutional Topic: Presidential Pardons". usconstitution.net. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- Ruckman, Jr., P. S. (November 4, 1995). "Federal Executive Clemency in United States". Archived from the original on March 26, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
- Josh Clark. "How Presidential Pardons Work". howstuffworks.com. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "Presidential Pardons". Jurist Legal Intelligence. Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Slack, Charles (2015). Liberty's First Crisis: Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech. Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0802123428.
- Ingersoll, Charles Jared (1852). History of the second war between the United States of America and Great Britain: declared by act of Congress, the 18th of June, 1812, and concluded by peace, the 15th of February, 1815. 2. Lippincott, Grambo & Co. pp. 82–83.
- Preston, Daniel (2000). A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe [Two Volumes]. ABC-CLIO/Greenwood. pp. 788ff. ISBN 978-0-313-31426-1.
- Hall, John W. (2009). Uncommon Defense: Indian Allies in the Black Hawk War. Harvard University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-674-03518-6.
- "President James Buchanan, on His Next to Last Day in Office, Pardons a Judge". Shapell Manuscript Collection. SMF.
- "Abraham Lincoln: Deciding the Fate of 300 Indians Convicted of War Crimes in Minnesota's Great Sioux Uprising". historynet.com. June 12, 2006. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- p. 34, Vallandigham, Clement Laird. The Trial Hon. Clement L. Vallandigham by a Military Commission: and the Proceedings Under His Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of Ohio. Cincinnati, OH: Rickey and Carroll, 1863.
- "Abraham Lincoln Exercises Clemency". Shapell Manuscript Collection. SMF.
- Franklin, John Hope (1961). Reconstruction After the Civil War. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 33–34.
- Johnson, Andrew. (December 25, 1868). Proclamation 179 – Granting Full Pardon and Amnesty for the Offense of Treason Against the United States During the Late Civil War. presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
- Benjamin Harrison (January 4, 1893). "Proclamation 346 – Granting Amnesty and Pardon for the Offense of Engaging in Polygamous or Plural Marriage to Members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints". presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- More are listed at the Presidential pardons page at Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt.
- United States Supreme Court. "Burdick v. United States 236 U.S. 79 (1915)". justia.com.
- "Presidential Clemency Statistics: 1900 to Present". US Department of Justice – Office of the Pardon Attorney. October 10, 2013. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- Brace, Ernest C. (February 23, 1988). "A CODE TO KEEP: The True Story of America's Longest-Held Civilian Prisoner of War in Vietnam by Ernest%20C. Brace | Kirkus". Kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- Andrew Glass (January 21, 2008). "Carter pardons draft dodgers Jan. 21, 1977". Politico. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Ingram Chronicles, Forbes, June 9, 1999
- "Federal Presidential Pardon". Levin & Zeiger LLP. April 25, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Ken Rudin (January 26, 2001). "I Beg Your Pardon". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- "Statement of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton Following Today's Oral Argument Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Re: United States of America V. Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean" (PDF) (Press release). U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas. December 3, 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2007.
- Lisa Rose (November 30, 2008). "Talent and friends get singer John Forte out of jail". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- Allie Malloy (December 20, 2016). "Obama grants clemency to 231 individuals, largest single day act". CNN. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
- Savage, Charlie (January 17, 2017). "Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning's Sentence". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Levin, Sam (January 17, 2017). "Obama commutes sentence for political prisoner Oscar López Rivera". The Guardian. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Willie McCovey pardoned by President Barack Obama". ESPN.com. January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.