The following List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the President of the United States documents the most prominent cases of each presidency. As granted by the Constitution (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1), Presidents have the power to grant clemency in one or more of the following ways: the ability to grant a full pardon, to commute a sentence, or to rescind a fine. U.S. Presidents have no power to grant clemency for crimes prosecuted under state law.
As to the difference between a pardon and a commutation:
- A pardon is an executive order vacating a conviction.
- A commutation is the mitigation of the sentence of someone currently serving a sentence for a crime pursuant to a conviction, without vacating the conviction itself.
Approximately 20,000 pardons and clemencies were issued by U.S. presidents in the 20th century alone. The records of acts of clemency were public 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.
- 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 Grover Cleveland (2nd term)
- 25 William McKinley
- 26 Theodore Roosevelt
- 27 William Howard Taft
- 28 Woodrow Wilson
- 29 Warren Harding
- 30 Calvin Coolidge
- 31 Herbert Hoover
- 32 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
- 33 Harry Truman
- 34 Dwight D. Eisenhower
- 35 John F. Kennedy
- 36 Lyndon B. Johnson
- 37 Richard Nixon
- 38 Gerald Ford
- 39 Jimmy Carter
- 40 Ronald Reagan
- 41 George H. W. Bush
- 42 Bill Clinton
- 43 George W. Bush
- 44 Barack Obama
- 45 See also
- 46 References
President George Washington pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 16 people during his term. Among them are:
- Philip Vigol (or Wigle), convicted of treason in the Whiskey Rebellion
- John Mitchell, convicted of treason in the Whiskey Rebellion
- George Dunbar Usher of Bristol, RI. Pardoned
Federalist President John Adams pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 21 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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.
- John Scotchlar, for stealing rigging from the new USS Constitution. Pay the fine; avoid lashing.
Democratic-Republican President Thomas Jefferson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 119 people during his term. Among them is:
- 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
Democratic-Republican President James Madison pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 196 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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.
Democratic-Republican President James Monroe pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 419 people during his term. Among them are:
- Numerous individuals convicted of piracy.
Democratic-Republican President John Quincy Adams pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 183 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
Democratic President Andrew Jackson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 386 people during his term. Among them is:
- 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, Wilson was not released from prison early.
Democratic President Martin Van Buren pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 168 people during his term. Among them is:
- William Lyon Mackenzie – violation of American neutrality laws; pardoned
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.
Whig President John Tyler pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 209 people during his term. Among them is:
- Alexander William Holmes – sailor convicted of voluntary manslaughter (U.S. v. Holmes); pardoned
Democratic President James K. Polk pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 268 people during his term. Among them is:
- John C. Frémont – convicted by court martial of mutiny. Frémont later became the 1856 Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
Whig President Zachary Taylor pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 38 people during his term.
Whig President Millard Fillmore pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 170 people during his term. Among them are:
- Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres – convicted in the Pearl incident (transporting slaves to freedom); pardoned
Democratic President Franklin Pierce pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 142 people during his term.
Democratic President James Buchanan pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 150 people during his term. Among them is:
- Brigham Young – pardoned for role in the Utah War.
- Daniel Vandersmith - a former judge, pardoned for forgery.
Republican President Abraham Lincoln pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 343 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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 during his term. Among them are:
- Confederate soldiers – unconditional amnesty to all Confederates on Christmas Day 1868; earlier amnesties requiring signed oaths and excluding certain classes of people were issued both by Lincoln and by Johnson. Among them were:
- Samuel Arnold – charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln
- Dr. Samuel Mudd – charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln
- Edmund Spangler – charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln
Republican President Ulysses S. Grant pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,332 people during his term. Among them are:
- Confederate leaders – All but 500 top Confederate leaders were pardoned when President Grant signed the Amnesty Act of 1872.
Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 893 people during his term. Among them is:
Republican President James Garfield was one of only two presidents who gave no pardons. This was due to his assassination shortly after taking office.
Republican President Chester A. Arthur pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 337 people during his term. Among them is:
- Fitz John Porter – Court-martialed for his actions at Second Bull Run; sentence commuted
Democratic President Grover Cleveland pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,107 (est.) people during his two, non-consecutive terms. Among them (in his first term) are:
- 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 a Federal Prison; received a full and unconditional pardon
Republican President Benjamin Harrison pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 613 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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)...
Democratic President Grover Cleveland pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,107 (est.) people during his two, non-consecutive terms. Among them (in his second term) is:
- "Billy Wilson" (David L. Anderson) – outlaw; pardoned
Republican President William McKinley pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 918 (est.) people during his term. Among them are:
- Alexander McKenzie – contempt of court; pardoned
- Charles Chilton Moore – jailed for blasphemy; pardoned
Republican President Theodore Roosevelt pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 981 (est.) people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
- Presidential pardons page at Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt
Republican President William H. Taft pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 758 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
Democratic President Woodrow Wilson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 2,480 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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 pled 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.
Republican President Warren G. Harding pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 800 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
Republican President Calvin Coolidge pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,545 people during his term. Among them are:
- Marcus Garvey – convicted of mail fraud; sentence commuted and deported
- Lothar Witzke – German spy and saboteur; pardoned and deported
Republican President Herbert Hoover pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,385 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
Democratic President Roosevelt granted 3,687 pardons in his four terms in office. Among them are:
- 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
Democratic President Harry Truman pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 2,044 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,157 people during his term. Among them is:
- 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.
Democratic President John F. Kennedy pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 575 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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.
Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,187 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
Republican President Richard Nixon pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 926 people during his term. Among them are:
- Jimmy Hoffa - convicted of fraud and bribery – sentence commuted (with conditions) on December 23, 1971
- Angelo DeCarlo – convicted of extortion; served 1½ 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
Republican President Gerald Ford pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 409 people during his term. Among them are:
- Richard Nixon – Granted a full and unconditional pardon just before he could be indicted.
- Robert E. Lee – full rights of citizenship were posthumously restored
- Iva Toguri D'Aquino – "Tokyo Rose" – only U.S. citizen convicted of treason 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.
Democratic President Jimmy Carter pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 566 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
Republican President Ronald Reagan pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 406 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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.
Republican President George H. W. Bush pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 77 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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 prior to his pardon. Pardoned for illegally contributing $54,000 to Richard Nixon's presidential campaign in 1972.
- Joseph Occhipinti – Federal drug agent convicted of violation of civil rights, perjury and depravation of rights. Commuted.
- Myra Soble – 1957 conviction for her involvement in the Rosenberg spy ring; pardoned
Democratic President William J. Clinton pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 459 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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. Pardoned at the request of 3 Republicans including Lewis Libby.
- 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.
- Lyle Prouse - Pilot convicted of flying drunk
Republican President George W. Bush pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 200 people during his term. Among them are:
- 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
- Edwin L. Cox Jr. – Convicted in 1988 for bank fraud
- John Forté – Hip-hop singer and song writer sentenced for smuggling cocaine was commuted.
- James Bernard Banks, of Liberty, Utah, sentenced to two years of probation in 1972 for illegal possession of government property.
- Russell James Dixon, of Clayton, Ga., sentenced to two years of probation in 1960 for a liquor law violation.
- Laurens Dorsey, of Syracuse, N.Y., sentenced in 1998 to five years of probation and $71,000 in restitution for conspiracy to defraud by making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration.
- Ronald Lee Foster, of Beaver Falls, Pa., sentenced in 1963 to a year of probation and a $20 fine for mutilating coins.
- Timothy James Gallagher, of Navasota, Texas, sentenced in 1982 to three years of probation for cocaine possession and conspiracy to distribute.
- Roxane Kay Hettinger, Powder Springs, Ga., sentenced in 1986 to 30 days in jail and three years of probation for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
- Edgar Leopold Kranz Jr., of Minot, N.D., who received 24 months of confinement and a pay reduction for cocaine use, adultery and bouncing checks.
- Floretta Leavy, of Rockford, Ill., sentenced in 1984 to 366 days in prison and three years of parole for drug offenses.
- Scoey Lathaniel Morris, of Crosby, Texas, sentenced in 1991 to three years of probation and $1,200 restitution for counterfeiting offenses.
- Pardons and clemency in the United States
- "Constitutional Law of Pardons: Scope and Limits of President's Power" by Samuel T. Morison.
- Presidential Clemency Actions By Fiscal Year: 1900 To 1945
- Presidential Clemency Actions By Administration: 1945 To 2001
- Presidential pardons page at University of Pittsburgh School of Law
- Josh Clark. "How Presidential Pardons Work". howstuffworks.com. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "Presidential Pardons". Jurist Legal Intelligence. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Ruckman, Jr., P. S. (1995-11-04). "Federal Executive Clemency in United States". Retrieved 2011-03-19.
- National Archives at Boston. US District Court, RI, Term 1791
- National Archives at Boston. US District Court, MA. 1798
- 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.
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- Franklin, John Hope (1961). Reconstruction After the Civil War. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 33–34.
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