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  • What can we surmise about America's political and social culture of this era from these amnesty requests? What makes a good citizen? What are "justifiable" reasons for going to war?
  • What were the most common reasons for joining the Confederate military according to former Confederate officers? Why do you think these reasons were so commonly cited?
  • What do you think would have been a more potent justification: pre- war opposition to secession or the ethical treatment of prisoners?
  • What were the differences between President Lincoln’s plan for amnesty and President Johnson’s plan for amnesty? Do you think the justifications in these requests may have been different if Lincoln's more lenient plan for amnesty had been followed?
  • What was at stake for the Confederate officers applying for pardons? What was at stake for President Johnson and the U.S. government granting or denying amnesty?
  • What should historians keep in mind when examining Confederate petitions for pardon?  Should these documents be viewed critically?
  • Do you think these petitioners' assertions that they had been supporters of the Union and opposed to secession are believable given that North Carolinians were generally reluctant to secede?