Claiming that they have known Ireland to always be truthful, peaceable, and law abiding, his 25 county-men request that Lincoln "will pardon said Thomas A. Ireland and restore him to the rights and privileges of a citizen of the United States."
The next page bears two lengthy attestations, the first, by W. H. Sanford, clerk of the circuit court for Owen Count, affirms that the petitioners are known to him as "residents of Owen County, Ky, and loyal citizens"; the second, by G. Clay Smith, asks Lincoln to "give a kind audience" to Mrs. Ireland, a "truly estimable woman," who evidently hand-carried the present petition to the White House.
On the verso of the second leaf, applies his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction to Ireland in an unusually expansive formulation: "Believing that this officer, in good faith, abandoned the rebel service, let him take the oath of Dec. 8, 1863, and be discharged. … Oct. 12, 1864." It appears as though Lincoln intended to sign his directive only with his initials, but—since he wrote them on top of the embossed seal of the Owen Circuit Court—he was apparently dissatisfied with their appearance, and he then added the fuller signature "A. Lincoln."
On 8 December 1863, despite the fact that the war still waged on, Lincoln issued a proclamation to provide a means of repatriating "those who resume their allegiance." Confederates who took an oath of loyalty, he was prepared to issue a full pardon, with some notable exceptions, which he delineated in the proclamation.
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