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Amnesty Petition of J.J. Ward, August 3, 1865

Title

Amnesty Petition of J.J. Ward, August 3, 1865

Description

Joseph J. Ward, or J.J. Ward, was postmaster of Franklinton, which is a small town in Franklin County, North Carolina, during the civil war. Because of his postmaster profession during the war, he was excluded from President Andrew Johnson’s general amnesty proclamation on May 29, 1865 and had to write his own amnesty petition to the President himself. (Case Files, NARS) On August 3, 1865, Ward wrote to President Johnson maintaining that he was afraid of the Confederate Government and was actually a teacher by profession before the rebellion. Ward also stated that he was glad the war was over and has renewed his allegiance to the country “in good faith and desires to spend the few remaining days of his earthly existence, as a free and loyal citizen.” (J.J. Ward)

Being a postmaster during that time does not seem like it would have been a treasonous act to us today, but back then being a postmaster was viewed as an act of rebellion towards the Union and these postmasters allegedly supported the Confederate cause. (A Nation Divided, NPM) Postmasters were not included in the general amnesty mainly because having a job like this a person could control one of the most important aspects of war- communication.

J.J. Ward became postmaster of Franklinton, NC on February 24, 1860, although when he quit or was replaced was shortly after the war. (Postmaster Finder, USPS) Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Furman would be the postmasters of Franklinton on and off for the next twenty years after the end of the Civil War in 1865 until 1885. (Postmaster Finder, USPS) Since Ward became postmaster of Franklinton before the war officially began, he knew how the postal system worked before and during the war, which questions whether he actually was a true supporter of the Confederacy or if he was “afraid” of the Confederate Government as he puts it in his amnesty petition to President Johnson. Other amnesty petitions, like Ward’s, claimed they were afraid of the Confederate Government and that is why they became the postmaster or took a certain job or position, while others stated they took the job(s) because they wanted to help others, which does seem like a admirable quality, although questionable to the degree of truth. One today cannot tell whether an amnesty petition was completely truthful or not, but at the time, President Johnson ended up giving amnesty to all who participated in the rebellion by the end of 1868. (Case Files, NARS)

Creator

Ward, J.J.

Source

J.J. Ward, Amnesty Petition, August 3, 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.

Date

1865-08-03

Contributor

Arnold, Meredith

Type

Document

Coverage

Franklinton, North Carolina
Franklin County, North Carolina

Original Format

Government Document

Text

To the president of the United States,

The undersigned, a resident of the town of Franklinton, in the county of Franklin, state of North Carolina, a teacher by profession, aged 58 years, respectfully requests to His Excellency, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States of America, that he was employed during the four years of rebellion, as post master of the [BLANK] afraid, under the so-called Confederate Government. He further represents to His Excellency that he is truly glad the war has terminated that he has renewed his allegiance to the Government of the United States, in good faith and desires to spend the few remaining days of his earthly existence, as a free and loyal citizen of the same, and respectfully begs His Excellency to extend to him the [courtesy?] of his office.

Very respectfully,

J.J. Ward

Bibliography

Case Files of Applications from Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons ("Amnesty Papers"), 1865-1867. National Archives and Record Service. M1003. 1977.

National Post Museum. "A Nation Divided." Accessed March 22, 2014. http://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2a6_anationdivided.html

United States Postal Service. "Postmaster Finder." Accessed March 22, 2014. http://webpmt.usps.gov/pmt003.cfm

Ward, J.J. Amnesty Petition, August 3, 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.

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Citation

Ward, J.J. , Amnesty Petition of J.J. Ward, August 3, 1865, Civil War Era NC, accessed October 17, 2017, https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/863.