List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the president of the United States
This is a partial list of people pardoned or granted clemency by the President of the United States. The plenary power to grant a pardon or a reprieve is granted to the president of the United States by Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution; the only limits mentioned in the Constitution are that pardons are limited to federal offenses, and that they cannot affect an impeachment process: "The president shall ... have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment".
Though pardons and reprieves have been challenged in the courts, and the power to grant them challenged by Congress, the Court has consistently declined to put limits on the president's discretion. The president can issue a full pardon, reversing a criminal conviction (along with its legal effects) as if it never happened. A pardon can be issued from the time an offense is committed, and can even be issued after the full sentence has been served. The president can issue a reprieve, commuting a criminal sentence, lessening its severity, its duration, or both while leaving a record of the conviction in place. Additionally, the president can make a pardon conditional, or vacate a conviction while leaving parts of the sentence in place, like the payment of fines or restitution.
Approximately 20,000 pardons and commutations were issued by U.S. presidents in the 20th century alone. Pardons granted by presidents from George Washington until Grover Cleveland's first term (1885–1889) were handwritten by the president; thereafter, pardons were prepared for the president by administrative staff requiring only that the president sign it. The records of these presidential acts were openly available for public inspection until 1934. In 1981 the Office of the Pardon Attorney was created and records from President George H. W. Bush forward are now listed.
John Fries, for his role in Fries's Rebellion; convicted of treason due to opposition to a tax; Fries and others were pardoned, and a general amnesty was issued for everyone involved.
Democratic-Republican president Thomas Jefferson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 119 people. One of his first acts upon taking office was to issue a general pardon for any person convicted under the Sedition Act. Among them are:
David Brown – convicted of sedition under the Sedition Act of 1798 because of his criticism of the United States federal government, receiving the harshest sentence of anyone; pardoned along with all violators of the act.
Democratic president Andrew Jackson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 386 people. Among them is:
George Wilson – convicted of robbing the United States mails. Strangely, Wilson refused to accept the pardon. The case went before the Supreme Court, and in United States v. Wilson the court stated: "A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected, we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him." As such, rather than serve a sentence of 20 years Wilson was executed by hanging.
Martin Van Buren
Democratic president Martin Van Buren pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 168 people. Among them are:
Whig president Zachary Taylor pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 38 people.
Whig president Millard Fillmore pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 170 people. Among them are:
Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres – convicted in the Pearl incident (transporting slaves to freedom); pardoned
Democratic president Franklin Pierce pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 142 people.
Noah Hanson – a free black man who was tried and convicted of assisting slaves to escape, convicted in 1851; pardoned in 1854; only known presidential pardon of a black person for Underground Railroad activities; 
Democratic president James Buchanan pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 150 people. Among them are:
Various men who enlisted in the army, but who were, among other circumstances, underage, bounty jumpers, or AWOL.
Democratic president Andrew Johnson pardoned about 7,000 people in the "over $20,000" class by May 4, 1866. More than 600 prominent North Carolinians were pardoned just before the election of 1864. President Andrew Johnson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 654 people. Among them are:
Ex-Confederates – a full and unconditional pardon and amnesty to all former Confederates of the rebellion on Christmas Day 1868, (earlier amnesties requiring signed oaths and excluding certain classes of people were issued by both Lincoln and Johnson). Among them were:
Charles W. Morse – ice shipping magnate convicted in 1909 of violations of federal banking laws; pardoned in 1912 due to ill health (later found to be feigned)
William Van Schaick – steamboat captain convicted for criminal negligence for the General Slocum steamship disaster of 1904, pardoned after 3 ½ years in prison
Democratic president Woodrow Wilson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 2,480 people. Among them are:
George Burdick – a New York newspaper editor, who had refused to testify in federal court regarding the sources used in his article concerning the collection of customs duties. He pleaded the 5th amendment; President Wilson then granted him a full pardon for all of his federal offenses, which he refused. He continued to plead the 5th, at which he was sentenced by a federal judge for contempt. It was then that the Supreme Court reinforced the necessity of accepting a pardon to be valid; the federal judge had imprisoned Burdick on the grounds that he was claiming falsely his need for protection against self-incrimination.
Frederick Krafft – Socialist political candidate convicted for alleged violation of the Espionage Act in June 1918, pardoned after serving nine months. Only person convicted under this law to receive a full executive pardon.
Republican president Warren G. Harding pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 800 people. Among them are:
Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,157 people. Among them is:
Maurice L. Schick – military court-martial for brutal murder; death sentence commuted to life imprisonment, with the condition that he would never be released. Legal challenge went to the Supreme Court, questioning the constitutionality of the punishment "Life Imprisonment Without Parole". Decided in Schick v. Reed that to be so sentenced was constitutional.
It is important to note that "until the Eisenhower Administration, each pardon grant was evidenced by its own separate warrant signed by the president. President Eisenhower began the practice of granting pardons by the batch, through the device of a "master warrant" listing all of the names of those pardoned, which also delegated to the Attorney General (or, later, the Deputy Attorney General or Pardon Attorney) authority to sign individual warrants evidencing the president's action."
John F. Kennedy
Democratic president John F. Kennedy pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 575 people. Among them are:
First-time offenders convicted of crimes under the Narcotics Control Act of 1956 – pardoned all, in effect overturning much of the law passed by Congress.
Hank Greenspun – editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, who was convicted in 1950 of violating the neutrality act in shipping arms to Israel during the Israeli war of independence; full pardon 1961
John Factor – reputed organized crime member convicted of mail fraud in 1939, released in 1949, scheduled to be deported. Pardoned in 1962 after investigation by Robert Kennedy
Hampton Hawes – musician convicted of heroin charges in 1958; Executive Clemency in 1963
Lyndon B. Johnson
Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 1,187 people. Among them are:
Iva Toguri D'Aquino, aka – "Tokyo Rose" – convicted of Treason in 1949, paroled in 1956. She was pardoned on January 19, 1977, Ford's last day in office. The only U.S. citizen convicted of treason during World War II to be pardoned.
Robert E. Lee – Confederate general during the Civil War, full rights of citizenship were posthumously restored
Frederic B. Ingram – Heir from Tennessee, convicted of bribing government officials in Illinois in 1977; jailed for 16 months. His sentence was commuted by Carter in December 1980.
Republican president Ronald Reagan pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 406 people. Among them are:
Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller – FBI officials convicted in December 1980 of authorizing illegal break-ins and fined. Pardoned on March 20, 1981. Mark Felt later in life admitted to being Deep Throat, the informant during the Watergate affair.
Armand Hammer – CEO of the Occidental Petroleum Company, contributed $110,000 to the Republican National Committee just before his pardon. Pardoned for illegally contributing $54,000 to Richard Nixon's presidential campaign in 1972.
Myra Soble – 1957 conviction of Conspiracy to Receive and Obtain National Defense Information and transmit same to foreign government in the Rosenberg spy ring; served four years, pardoned in 1991, died one year later.
Democratic president Bill Clinton pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 459 people. Among them are:
Almon Glenn Braswell – Nutritional supplement magnate, convicted of mail fraud and perjury in 1983; pardoned
Henry Cisneros – Clinton's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count for lying to the FBI in 1999 about payments to a mistress, and was fined $10,000.
Roger Clinton, Jr. – brother of Bill Clinton. After serving a year in federal prison (1985-86) for cocaine possession.
John Deutch – Director of Central Intelligence, former Provost and University Professor, MIT. He had agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for mishandling government secrets on January 19, 2001, but President Clinton pardoned him in his last day in office, two days before the Justice Department could file the case against him.
Edward Downe, Jr. – convicted of wire fraud, filing false income tax returns, and securities fraud in 1992; pardoned
Elizam Escobar – Puerto Rican artist and activist, convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1980; pardoned
FALN – commuted the sentences of 16 members of FALN, a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group that set off 120 bombs in the United States, mostly in New York City and Chicago. The 16 were convicted of conspiracy and sedition and sentenced with terms ranging from 35 to 105 years in prison.
Henry O. Flipper – The first black West Point cadet was found guilty of "conduct unbecoming an officer" in 1882. Posthumously pardoned.
Patty Hearst – Convicted of bank robbery in 1976 after being kidnapped and allegedly brainwashed. Prison term commuted by Jimmy Carter and was released from prison in 1979. She was fully pardoned by Clinton in 2001.
Rick Hendrick – NASCAR Team Owner & Champion; convicted of mail fraud in 1997; pardoned
Susan McDougal – business partner with Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the failed Whitewater land deal. Guilty of contempt of court, she served her entire sentence starting in 1998 and was then pardoned.
Samuel Loring Morison – former Naval intelligence officer, convicted of espionage and theft of government property in 1985; pardoned
Fife Symington III – Governor of Arizona convicted of bank fraud in 1997, the conviction was overturned in 1999; subsequently pardoned.
Susan Rosenberg - a former radical activist and domestic terrorist of the early 1970's, was convicted of illegal explosives possession in 1984, commuted on January 20, 2001.
Howard Winfield Riddle - was convicted of violating the Lacey Act by illegally importing endangered anteaters from Thailand in 1988, sentenced to 10 months in prison. Pardoned on January 20, 2001.
George W. Bush
Republican president George W. Bush pardoned, commuted or rescinded the convictions of 200 people. Among them are:
José Compeán and Ignacio Ramos – Two US Border Patrol agents who wounded drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Dávila on February 17, 2005, and tried to cover up the incident received commutation in 2009.
John Forté – Hip-hop singer and songwriter sentenced for smuggling cocaine in 2000 was commuted.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby – Assistant to President George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney was convicted of perjury in connection with the CIA leak scandal involving members of State Department who 'outed' CIA agent Valerie Plame. Was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined him $250,000 on June 5, 2007. Libby received commutation of his prison sentence, not a full pardon, on July 2, 2007. Libby later received a full pardon from President Donald Trump in 2018.
Issac Robert Toussie – Brooklyn real estate developer, convicted of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2001; pardoned in 2008 and the pardon revoked one day later.
Charles Winters – Posthumous pardon for smuggling three B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers to Israel in the late 1940s,served 18 months in prison, died in 1984.
Democratic president Barack Obama pardoned 212 people and commuted the sentences of a further 1,715 people. Among them are:
James Cartwright, retired United States Marine Corps four-star general, he pleaded guilty to giving false statements to federal investigators in 2016 and was awaiting sentencing. Pardoned on January 17, 2017.
Dwight J. Loving, a U.S. Army private sentenced to death in Texas for murdering two taxi drivers in 1988. Commuted to life without parole on January 17, 2017.
Willie McCovey, professional baseball player, pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1995 and received two years probation and a $5,000 fine. Pardoned on January 17, 2017.
Ian Schrager, former co-owner of the famed dance club Studio 54, pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1979 and received three and a half years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Pardoned on January 17, 2017.
Oscar López Rivera, FALN member sentenced in 1981 to 55 years in prison for seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property, and subsequently to an additional 15 years for attempted escape in 1988. Commuted on January 17, 2017.
Jason Hernandez, received a life time sentence as a non-violent drug offender in 1998 at the age of 21. After the death of his brother J.J., also in prison, Jason dedicated his life to learning law and incarceration rates of nonviolent offenders. Since his pardon Jason has held true the promise he made President Obama and helps those who are struggling with drug addictions at Grace to Change, speaking at various engagements where he educates people about helping at risk-youth, and advocating for nonviolent offenders.
As of July 29, 2019, Republican president Donald Trump has issued fifteen pardons and six commutations. Among them are:
Jack Johnson, a champion boxer who was convicted in 1913 while traveling with his white girlfriend for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for "immoral" purposes, released after one year. Posthumously pardoned on May 24, 2018.
Dinesh D'Souza, author and documentary film maker, convicted of campaign finance violations in 2014. Pardoned on May 31, 2018.
Alice Marie Johnson, an unemployed parcel delivery worker and first-time drug offender sentenced to life without parole in 1996 for conspiracy to possess cocaine, attempted possession of cocaine, and money laundering. Commuted on June 6, 2018.
Michael Behenna, former United States Army First Lieutenant who was convicted in 2009 of murdering an unarmed prisoner during the Iraq War. Sentenced to 25 years in military prison, paroled in 2014. Pardoned on May 7, 2019.
Conrad Black, a British newspaper publisher convicted in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice for scheming to siphon off millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers, spent 3-1/2 years in prison and was deported. Pardoned on May 15, 2019.
Pat Nolan, former California state legislator who pleaded guilty to racketeering in 1994, served 2-1/6 years in prison. Pardoned on May 16, 2019.
^p. 34, Vallandigham, Clement Laird. The Trial Hon. Clement L. Vallandigham by a Military Commission: and the Proceedings Under His Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of Ohio. Cincinnati, OH: Rickey and Carroll, 1863.
Augustus Hill Garland (June 11, 1832 – January 26, 1899) was an American lawyer and Democratic politician from Arkansas, who initially opposed Arkansas' secession from the United States, but later served in both houses of the Congress of the Confederate States and the United States Senate, as well as became the 11th Governor of Arkansas (1874-1877) and the 38th Attorney General of the United States (1885-1889).
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was criticized for some of his pardons and acts of executive clemency. Pardoning or commuting sentences is a power granted by the U.S. Constitution to all sitting U.S. Presidents.
While most presidents grant pardons throughout their terms, Clinton chose to make nearly a third of them on January 20, 2001, his last day in office. This came to be known as Pardongate. While Clinton pardoned a large number (450) of people compared with his immediate one-term predecessor Republican George H. W. Bush, who pardoned only 75, the number of people pardoned by Clinton was comparable to that pardoned by two-term Republican Ronald Reagan and one-term Democrat Jimmy Carter, who pardoned 393 and 534 respectively.Federal prosecutor Mary Jo White was appointed to investigate the pardon of Marc Rich. She was later replaced by then-Republican James Comey, who found no illegality on Clinton's part.
A federal pardon in the United States is the action of the President of the United States that completely sets aside or commutes (lessens) the punishment for a federal crime. The authority to take such action is granted to the president by Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. Under the Constitution, the president's clemency power extends to federal criminal offenses. All requests for executive clemency for federal offenses are directed to the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation and review. The beneficiary of a pardon needs to accept the pardon and acknowledge that the crime did take place.The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a president can pardon someone for state or local crimes, dicta in Ex parte Garland stated that the pardon power extends to all offences known to the law . Experts disagree as to whether a president can pardon himself, but pardons cannot apply to cases of impeachment. The pardon can also be used for a presumptive case, such as when President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon over any possible crimes regarding the Watergate scandal.
Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as the only President of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865. As a member of the Democratic Party, he represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives prior to switching allegiance to the Confederacy. He was appointed as the United States Secretary of War, serving from 1853 to 1857, under President Franklin Pierce.
Davis was born in Fairview, Kentucky, to a moderately prosperous farmer, the youngest of ten children. He grew up in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, and also lived in Louisiana. His eldest brother Joseph Emory Davis secured the younger Davis's appointment to the United States Military Academy. After graduating, Jefferson Davis served six years as a lieutenant in the United States Army. He fought in the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), as the colonel of a volunteer regiment. Before the American Civil War, he operated a large cotton plantation in Mississippi, which his brother Joseph gave him, and owned as many as 113 slaves. Although Davis argued against secession in 1858, he believed that states had an unquestionable right to leave the Union.
Davis married Sarah Knox Taylor, daughter of general and future President Zachary Taylor, in 1835, when he was 27 years old. They were both stricken with malaria soon thereafter, and Sarah died after three months of marriage. Davis recovered slowly and suffered from recurring bouts of the disease throughout his life. At the age of 36, Davis married again, to 18-year-old Varina Howell, a native of Natchez, Mississippi, who had been educated in Philadelphia and had some family ties in the North. They had six children. Only two survived him, and only one married and had children.
Many historians attribute some of the Confederacy's weaknesses to the poor leadership of Davis. His preoccupation with detail, reluctance to delegate responsibility, lack of popular appeal, feuds with powerful state governors and generals, favoritism toward old friends, inability to get along with people who disagreed with him, neglect of civil matters in favor of military ones, and resistance to public opinion all worked against him. Historians agree he was a much less effective war leader than his Union counterpart, President Abraham Lincoln. After Davis was captured in 1865, he was accused of treason and imprisoned at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. He was never tried and was released after two years. While not disgraced, Davis had been displaced in ex-Confederate affection after the war by his leading general, Robert E. Lee. Davis wrote a memoir entitled The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, which he completed in 1881. By the late 1880s, he began to encourage reconciliation, telling Southerners to be loyal to the Union. Ex-Confederates came to appreciate his role in the war, seeing him as a Southern patriot. He became a hero of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy in the post-Reconstruction South.
By the end of his second and final term on January 20, 2017, United States President Barack Obama had exercised his constitutional power to grant executive clemency—that is, "pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve"—to 1,927 individuals convicted of federal crimes. Of the acts of clemency, 1,715 were commutations (including 504 life sentences) and 212 were pardons. Most individuals granted executive clemency by Obama had been convicted on drug charges, and had received lengthy and sometimes mandatory sentences at the height of the war on drugs.Obama holds the record for the largest single-day use of the clemency power, granting 330 commutations on January 19, 2017, his last full day in office. He also issued more commutations than the past 13 presidents combined.
Since taking office as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has granted executive clemency to a number of individuals as authorized under Article II, Section 2, of the US Constitution. Under the Constitution, the president's clemency power extends only to federal criminal offenses. All requests for executive clemency for federal offenses are directed to the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation and review. The beneficiary of a pardon needs to accept the pardon and acknowledge that the crime did take place.
The following is a partial list of people pardoned by Bill Clinton. As President, Bill Clinton used his power under the U.S. Constitution to grant pardons and clemency to 456 people, thus commuting the sentences of those already convicted of a crime, and obviating a trial for those not yet convicted. On January 20, 2001, he pardoned 140 people in the final hours of his presidency.This list is a subset of the List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the President of the United States.
The pardon of Richard Nixon (Proclamation 4311 ) on September 8, 1974, by President Gerald Ford granted Nixon, Ford's predecessor as president, a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while president. In particular, the pardon covered Nixon's actions during the Watergate scandal. In a televised broadcast to the nation, Ford, who had succeeded to the presidency upon Nixon's resignation, explained that he felt the pardon was in the best interests of the country and that the Nixon family's situation was "a tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must."After Ford left the White House in 1977, he privately justified his pardon of Nixon by carrying in his wallet a portion of the text of Burdick v. United States, a 1915 U.S. Supreme Court decision that suggests that a pardon carries an imputation of guilt and that acceptance carries a confession of guilt.
Willie Lee McCovey (January 10, 1938 – October 31, 2018) was an American Major League Baseball first baseman. Known as "Stretch" during his playing days, and later also nicknamed "Mac" and "Willie Mac," he is best known for his long tenure as one of the sport's greatest stars with the San Francisco Giants.
Over a 22-year career between 1959 and 1980 he played 19 seasons with the Giants and three more for the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics. A fearsome left-handed hitter, he was a six-time All-Star, three-time home run champion, MVP, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 in his first year of eligibility, only the 16th man so honored.
McCovey was known as a dead-pull line drive hitter, causing some teams to employ a shift against him. Seventh on baseball's all-time home run list when he retired, McCovey was called "the scariest hitter in baseball" by pitcher Bob Gibson, seconded by similarly feared slugger Reggie Jackson. McCovey lashed 521 home runs, 231 launched in Candlestick Park, the most there by any player. One on September 16, 1966, was described as the longest ever hit in that stadium.
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