Wednesday, February 01, 2012

So I was humming along yesterday, reading through the applications sent by Mecklenburg County citizens after the war to President Johnson, asking for presidential pardon, when I found something really interesting.  On May 27, 1865, Johnston extended pardon to all former Confederates unless they fell into one of fourteen classes of citizens. Most of you are probably familiar with these classes. They included those who held the rank of colonel or above, those who held appointed or elected posta, like tax collector or post master. And then there are those who had $20,000.00 or more in property/real estate in 1860. There are 39 folks from Mecklenburg County who applied for a pardon. One was an army officer (D. H. Hill), fifteen worked for the postal department, and twenty-five fell under the $20,000 or more class.

As I am working my way through the list, going over each file, low and behold, I find an application for Mrs. Margaret M. Withers. I'll confess early: I don't recall ever coming across in my research a woman applying for a presidential pardon. So, I did some digging. Out of15,000 (or so) requests for pardons received by President Johnson from Southerners, only 389 were from women. Of that 389, only twenty-one were from North Carolina.  I'm not sure who the other twenty were, but I find the case of Withers intriguing.

Withers applied under the $20,000 or more section. She stated that her husband, Samuel M. Withers, enlisted in 1863 and died in 1864. I have not found his regiment, yet. She was asking Johnston for a "special pardon with restoration of rights of property in behalf of herself and infant children."

The author of an article I found on the subject ("Not Intended to Dispossess Females: Southern Women and Civil War Amnesty" by Bradley R. Clampitt) believes that women were afraid that their property would be confiscated at the end of the war, divided up, and given to African-Americans. I find all of this very interesting. Have you come across this? Drop me a line and let me know.

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