Rare Dual Lincoln and Johnson Signatures on Petition for Release of Prisoner 2 Weeks Before War's End

Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson were President and Vice President for only six weeks, and both signed only a few documents in those respective roles during that time. Lincoln had endorsed several similar petitions for pardon when Johnson was Military Governor of Tennessee. This petition came from "nearly all...loyal" men from Clarkesville and Montgomery County, Tennessee, located on the Kentucky border forty miles northwest of Nashville.

They asked that James H. Acree of the 14th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, then a prisoner at Fort Delaware on an island in the Delaware River between Delaware and New Jersey, be allowed to take the amnesty oath of December 8, 1863, and return home. This oath allowed President Lincoln to pardon former Confederates who agreed to swear future loyalty to the United States government and accept the end of slavery.

Acree was released from Fort Delaware on March 23, 1865, two weeks before General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant. Within a week after that event, Lincoln would be dead, and Johnson would be President.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Endorsement Signed, March 17, 1865, on J. O. Shackelford et al., Manuscript Letter Signed, to Abraham Lincoln, February 20, 1865, Clarksville, Tennessee. 2 pp., 8" x 9.5". Tightly trimmed at the bottom, affecting one line of text and likely removing one or more lines; Johnson's and Lincoln's signatures close together; very good.

Complete Transcript
Clarkesville Tenn
Feby 20th 1865
To His Excellency Abraham Lincoln President of the United States. Your Petitioners Loyal Men of The County of Montgomery State of Tennessee would Respectfully Represent that James H. Acree of Co. G. 14th Regiment Tenn Volunteers is a prisoner of war and is now confined as such at Fort Delaware and desires to take the Oath and return to his allegiance to the Government of the United States, and we believe the He will abide by and strickly observe the same. And we Respectfully ask that he be discharged
J O Shackelford
H. M. Acree
W. H. Crouch
T. J. Frey
R. H. Williams
Wm Wines P.M.
Jo T. Johnson
I am well acquainted with W. A. Crouch
[rest cut off]

[Endorsement on verso:]
We are well acquainted with J. O. Shackelford and others signers of the within petition as well as B R Pearl, and without hesitation endorse them as truthful and nearly all of them loyal
D. W. Nye / assnt assessor Int Revenue
O M Blackman / Local Special Agent

[Endorsement in Johnson's hand:]
Washington City
March 16th 1865.
Respectfully referred to his Excellency the President of the United States.
The signers of the within petition are for the most part personally known to me as loyal and highly respectable citizens.
Andrew Johnson

[Endorsement in Lincoln's hand:]
Let this man take the oath of Dec. 8, 1863, & be discharged
March 17, 1865. A. Lincoln

Historical Background
On December 8, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. It offered a pardon and amnesty for any person who "participated in the existing rebellion" who take an oath of future loyalty to the Constitution, the Union, and the Emancipation Proclamation. It excepted civil and diplomatic officers of the Confederacy, military officers above the rank of colonel in the army or lieutenant in the navy, all former Congressmen, and any who resigned commissions in the United States army or navy.

The required oath declared, "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 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."

Lincoln announced this oath and plan for reconstruction in his annual message to Congress, also delivered on December 8, 1863.

James H. Acree (1832-1911) was born in Montgomery County, Tennessee. He enlisted as a private in the 14th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry in June 1861 and again in May 1862. He was reportedly captured at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, but was exchanged and rejoined his regiment by January 1863. He was again captured at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, and sent to Fort Delaware. Allowed to take the amnesty oath by President Abraham Lincoln, Acree took the oath and was discharged from Fort Delaware on March 23, 1865. In October 1865, he married Nancy Peyton Waugh (1840-1884), and they had four children. In 1870, he was a farmer in Montgomery County, Tennessee. Several years after his first wife's death, he married Nancy M. Shelby (1835-1911) in 1889.

Attorney and Tennessee Supreme Court justice James O. Shackelford (1809-1880), dentist and Confederate secret service veteran Horace M. Acree (1829-1923), tobacco farmer and dealer William Hardin Crouch (1813-1892), farmer Thomas J. Frey (1821-1895), educator and postmaster William Wines (1811-1898), and Joseph T. Johnson all signed the petition, and Recorder and Assessor of Internal Revenue Daniel W. Nye (1815-1896) and Special Agent Oliver M. Blackman (1817-1902) signed as character references for James O. Shackelford.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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