Amnesty Petition of John Manning, Jr., June 19, 1865
Chatham County is located in central Piedmont of North Carolina, an area with strong Union sentiment throughout the secession crisis and the Civil War. (Auman 2014; Brown 2008) The majority of people in the region, however, did not understand their loyalty to be as clearly defined as â€œUnionistâ€ and â€œConfederate.â€ Manning is an example of a North Carolinian whose perception of loyalty was more elastic than commonly understood.
In February of 1861 Chatham County was reluctant to even hold a secession convention, with only 283 votes for a convention and 1,795 votes against. (Hadley et al 1976, 151) After Lincolnâ€™s call for troops in April, sentiment changed, and by May the delegates at the state secession convention unanimously voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederate States of America. John Manning, Jr. cast one of those votes. Nevertheless, when petitioning for amnesty, he maintained that he was â€œutterly opposedâ€ to secession on the grounds that it was not legal. (Item 862)
Later in the war, Manning took the position of a receiver under the district judge, causing him to fall under the 1st exception of President Johnsonâ€™s Amnesty Proclamation. Manning testifies that he had been granted amnesty already under Lincolnâ€™s plan. He explains that he only accepted the Confederate position because it was the best of the three options open to him as a man within the conscript age, the other two choices being abandon his family or attempt to avoid conscription by other means. He testifies that he â€œnever lost an opportunity to urge upon the people the duty and necessity of restoring the National authority in the state.â€ In fact, he even claims that his outspoken Union sentiment caused a Confederate officer to deem his as disloyal. (Item 862) However, he also claims that he â€œnever voluntarily contributed to the support of the Rebellion,â€ although it is known that he enlisted in a regiment known as the Chatham Rifles in 1861. (museum.unc.edu; Biographical Directory of the United States Congress)
The contradiction between Manningâ€™s professed views and actions was common in the Piedmont. As Manning says, the circumstances of the Rebellion forced him into a â€œseeming acquiescences,â€ just like a â€œmany other good citizens of N.C.â€ (Item 862) While a brutal inner Civil War raged between loyal Confederates aided by the state militia, and outspoken Unionists, the majority of Confederate citizens in Chatham County, and the central Piedmont alike, did whatever they deemed best for themselves and their families. (Taylor 2000)
Manning was granted amnesty, and in 1870 was elected as a Democrat to fill the remainder of the term left by Rep. John Deweese, a Republican who resigned from office. Manning served in the 41st Congress from December 1870 to March 1871, when he returned to Pittsboro to practice law. In 1875 he was a delegate to the North Carolina Constitutional Convention. The 1875 Convention met once the Democratic Party had regained power and aimed to overturn the â€œradical Republicanâ€ Constitution of 1868. The Convention and the amendments passed aimed at limiting the rights of black citizens, and changed the county government system so the Democratic Party could maintain power in the state. Manning served in the State House of Representatives in 1881 and headed a committee to codify North Carolina laws. He later became a professor of law at his alma mater, and was a member of the Board of Trustees until his death in 1899.
To His Excellency Andrew Johnson
President of the U.S. of A.
The petition of John Manning Jr. of the County of Chatham and State of North Carolina. respectfully shows to your Excellency, that he was born in Edenton Chowan County N.C. on 30th of July 1830, and that he removed from Norfolk Va to Pittsboro N.C. in Nov. 1851 and his been living here ever since following his business, which is that of an Atto. at Law. He would further show that in 1856 his father John Manning executed and delivered to him a deed of Gift for a house and lot on Granby street North of Free Mason Street in Norfolk, Va. the house being numbered eight, as his part of the estate of his said father, that besides this that he owns house and lot in the town of Pittsboro on which he now resides (or more properly his wife owns it) and a little family farm of Ninety acres in the Neighborhood of said town and that this is the whole of his estate. He would further show that he has a wife and five small children entirely dependent on his labor for a support.
He would further show that he was utterly opposed to secession Movement in this state never believing either in the right or the policy of secession, that in 1860 and 61 canvassed the County of Chatham against secession, voted against the call of a Convention in Feb 1861, and did all he could in every way to prevent the awful calamity which has befallen our County; that he is in no way responsible for the blood which has been shed or the property which has been destroyed in this wicked Rebellion believing as he always did in the right and duty of the Government to Maintain the supremacy of the laws and the integrity of the Union and he rejoices that this has been accomplished by the energy, wisdom, and prudence of our lamented President and his able advisors.
He would further show that like many other good citizens of N.C., he was forced by circumstances into a seeming acquiescences in the Rebellion, although he has never lost an opportunity to urge upon the people the duty and necessity of restoring the National authority in the state; nor never voluntarily contributed to the support of the Rebellion.
He would further show that as he was within the Conscript age, he had but three courses left open to him, either to be conscribed, abandon his home and family, or to resort to some shift to keep out of the army. The first was impossible with his abiding sense of injustice of the Rebellion, the second was also impossible as he was without any means, and if he had possessed them, would not have been allowed to leave by the authorities of the so called Confederate States. He was compelled therefore to accept the only appointment he was able to secure, to wit, that of Receiver under Asa Biggs a pretended District Judge of the so called Confederate States. He would further show that on 12th of May 1865 which was the first opportunity he had, he took the Amnesty Oath prescribed by President Lincoln and so satisfied were the Military Authorities of the loyalty of your petitioner that he was enrolled by them into the local police force for the County of Chatham.
He would further show that for his well known and open opposition to the Rebellion and to the despotism and tyranny of the pretended Government of the so called Confederate States, that he was reported to the pretended Commandant of Conscripts for this state, as one who was disloyal to the so called Confederate Government and who by all means ought to be silenced. If therefore your Excellency should be of the opinion that his holding this agency under the pretended District Judge as aforesaid excepts him from the benefit of your Excellencys' Amnesty Proclamation of May 29th 1865, he having taken the oath prescribed therein on 2nd day of June 1865 at Norfolk Va; your petitioner prays your Excellency to grant unto him the pardon & Amnesty set forth in your said Proclamation of 29th of May 1865. And as in duty bound your petitioner will ever pray
John Manning, Jr.
Auman, William T. Civil War in the North Carolina Quaker Belt: The Confederate Campaign Against Peace Agitators, Deserters and Draft Dodgers. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., Inc Publishing, 2014.
Brown, David. “North Carolinian Ambivalence: Rethinking Loyalty and Disaffection in the Civil War Piedmont.” In North Carolinians in the Civil War and Reconstruction, ed. Paul D. Escott. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.
Hadley, Wade, and Doris Goerch Horton & Nell Craig Strowd. Chatham County, 1771-1971. Raleigh, NC: Moore Publishing Company, 1976.
“John Manning, Jr. and Manning Hall,” The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History, http://museum.unc.edu/exhibits/names/john-manning-jr-and-manning-hall/ (accessed 24 March 2014).
King-Owen, Scott. “Conditional Confederates: Absenteeism among Western North Carolina Soldiers, 1861–1865.” Civil War History 57, no. 4 (Dec., 2011): 349-379.
Manning, John, Jr., Amnesty Petition, June 19, 1865, Case Files of Applications from Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons (“Amnesty Papers”), 1865-67, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94, Publication M1003, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
“Manning, John, Jr., (1830-1899),” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M000109 (accessed 24 March 2014).
Orth, John V. “‘The Law of the Land”: The North Carolina Constitution and State Constitutional Law: North Carolina Constitutional History.” North Carolina Law Review (Sept., 1992).
Taylor, Amy Murrell. “‘Of Necessity and Public Benefit:’ Southern Families and their Appeals for Protection." In Southern Families at War: Loyalty and Conflict in the Civil War South, ed. Catherine Clinton. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
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