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J. Finley McIlwaine Petition for Pardon

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 5 Jul 1865 [unknown]
Location: Petersburg, Virginiamap
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Petersburg Va. July 5th 1865
To his Excellency Andrew Johnson
President of the United States
Your petitioner, J. Finley McIlwaine, of Petersburg Virginia, respectfully ask for Special pardon and amnesty.
I am twenty seven years old; was born and have always lived in Petersburg; and am by occupation a Manufacturer of Tobacco. I was never a politician, and never sought nor held a political office in my life. At the beginning of the war, being twenty three years of age, I was thoroughly involved with the principles and feelings of that sect of politicians known in Virginia as “States-rights men" or “Secessionists”. I was in favor of the Secession of Virginia after Mr. Lincoln's Election, and voted accordingly. I was honest and Ernest in my convictions, and consequently when the war came volunteered as a private Soldier in the first company of Cavalry that went from Petersburg, and served faithfully my term of twelve months.
When military service became compulsory by the passage of the conscript law of April 16, 1862, I availed myself of the privilege of substitution thereby granted, and thus procured exception until January 1864, when another law was passed placing both principles and substitutes in the army. In the meantime however I had gone to farming in the country and having more than 15 hands employed, I was exempted on that ground from military service. In January or February 1865, this farmer’s exemption was repealed to take affect on the first day of April; but events prevented the execution of the law, and consequently I escaped. In the interval between the passage of the law, and the day it was to go into operation in order to keep out of the army, I procured a contract to make iron from ore in North Carolina; but nothing was ever done under this contract.
I never had during the war; any office, employment appointment or contract under either Confederate or States government except as above mentioned. And after my discharge from the army in 1862, I never participated in the rebellion, except by giving moral aid and comfort as a private citizen, and by contributing occasionally to the relief of Soldiers and their families. My crops were of course xxxx by the Confederate authorities.
Candor requires one to say, that while I have personally done but little, I was so hopeful of the Confederate cause, that even after the fall of Richmond & Petersburg and the surrender of General, Lee, I fully believed that the Confederacy would finally triumph.
But now I am perfectly satisfied. I am content with the restoration of the Union, and renounce my xxxx opinions. I recognize the authority of the Government of the United States under the Constitution as paramount within the States; I am glad that Slavery has been abolished, and instead hereafter to be a true and loyal citizen of the United States.
With these views and feelings I took the oath of allegiance prescribed by President Lincoln, and also the prescribed in your Excellency’s proclamation of May 29, 1865, as per certificate herewith filed.
My estate is worth more than $20,000. No part of it has ever been taken possession of by the Federal Authorities; no steps have been taken to confiscate it, and no third person will be affected by my pardon. I desire pardon and amnesty that my energies, and means may be set free, and that I may go to work, and make some amends for the mischief which has been done.
And as in duty bound, your petitioner will ever pray.
Very respectfully
Your obedient Servant,
J. F. McIlwaine
I recommend the petitioner for pardon
F. H. Pierpoint


  • Governor Francis H. Pierpoint


  • U.S., Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardons, 1865-1867

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