Georgia State Convention, "Plea for the release and pardon of Jefferson Davis..." Milledgeville, Georgia, October 30, 1865

    Source citation
    "Georgia," The American Cyclopeadia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1865 ... (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1869), 397.
    Author (from)
    Georgia State Convention
    Legislative record
    Date Certainty
    John Osborne, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
    Milledgeville, Ga., Oct 30,1865.
    To his Excellency Andrew Johnson, President of the United States:
    The delegates of the State of Georgia, in Convention assembled, do earnestly invoke the Executive clemency in behalf of Jefferson Davis and Alexander H. Stephens, and of James A. Seddon, of Virginia; A. G. McGrath, of South Carolina; William Allison and David L. Yulee, of Florida, and H. W. Mercer, of Georgia, now confined as prisoners in Fort Pulaski, and of all other prisoners similarly circumstanced. Your Excellency has been pleased to restore Mr. Stephens to his liberty. He returns to the grateful people of his State as a solemn pledge of the magnanimity which rules the public councils, and his great name and influence will be potent to revive the amity of the past and to fructify the wise and generous policy which your Excellency has inaugurated. Emboldened by this example, impelled by the purity of our motives, and stimulated by the prayers of a numerous people, we appeal for clemency in behalf of the distinguished persons we have named. Restore them to liberty and to the embraces of their families, translate them from captivity to the light of freedom and of hope, and the gratitude of the prisoners will be mingled with the joyful acclamations which shall ascend to Heaven from the hearts of this people.
    Mr. Davis was elevated to his high position by our suffrages and in response to our wishes. We imposed upon him a responsibility which he did not seek. Originally opposed to the sectional policy to which ubiic opinion, with irresistible power, finally drove him, he became the exponent of our principles and the leader of our cause. He simply responded to the united voice of his section. If he, then, is guilty, so are we. We were the principals; he was our agent. Let not the retribution of a mighty nation be visited upon his head; while we, who urged him to his destiny, are suffered to escape. The liberal clemency of the Government has been extended over us. We breathe the air and experience the blessings of freedom. We therefore asK that the leader, who, in response to the democratic instincts of his nature, the principles of his party, and the solicitations of his section, became the head and front of our offending, shall not now be bruised for our iniquities or punished for our transgressions. Mr. Davis was not the leader of a feeble and temporary insurrection; he was the representative of great ideas and the exponent of principles which stirred and consolidated a numerous and intelligent people. This people was not his dupe. They pursued the course which they adopted of their own free will, and be did not draw them on, but followed after them. It is for these reasons that we invoke the Executive clemency in his behalf. His frame is feeble; his health is delicate —all broken by the storms of State. He languishes out in captivity a vicarious punishment for the acts of his people. Thousands of hearts are touched with his distress. Thousands of prayers ascend to Heaven for his relief. We invoke in his behalf the generous exercise of the prerogative to pardon which the form and principles of the Constitution offer as a beneficent instrument io a merciful Executive. We ask the continuance of that career of clemency which your Excellency has begun, and which alone we earnestly believe can secure the true unity and the lasting greatness of the nation. Dispensing that mercy which is inculcated by the example of our great Master on high, your name will be transmitted to your countrymen as one of the benefactors of mankind. The Constitution of our country, renewed and fortified by your measures, will once more extend its protection over a contented and happy people, founded, as it will be, upon consent and afiection, and "resting, like the great arch of tbe heavens, equally upon all."
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