7 Famous Presidential Pardons
EVAN ANDREWS of the History Channel
 summarized by Walter Antoniotti    
Most Prominent Presidential Pardons    
Good and Bad Pardons      Talking Trash: 7 Epic Presidential Insults
 Updated 6/26/18   
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The Whiskey Rebels (1795)

The first presidential pardon came after an armed rebellion. Costly federal tax on distilled spirits caused a 1794 group of whiskey-producing Pennsylvania farmers to burn the local tax inspector's home. President George Washington used a 13,000-strong militia to quiet the western Pennsylvania rebellion. Some 20 members were arrested, two were convicted of treason but their sentenced of death by hanging was pardoned  by Washington to quiet the situation.

Brigham Young (1858)

Brigham Young, an early leader of the Mormon Church and territory’s first governor, was resistant to federal intervention. Worried that Young and the Mormons would turn Utah into a theocracy, President James Buchanan dispatched troops to  take control of the territory. Young’s followers had a year-long mostly bloodless standoff with th U.S. Army  September. In 1857 Mormons killed over 100 California-bound wagon train civilians. A peace compromise resulted in a full pardon for Young and other participants

Fitz John Porter (1886)

Eighteen years after Confederate soldiers received a presidential pardon, U.S. General Fitz John Porter was exonerated for his Civil War activities. His ill-planned attack that resulted in disgrace and a  devastating loss at the 1862 Second Battle of Bull Run.  He was court-martialed Union after a controversial public trial. Believing he was a scapegoat, Porter spent two decades trying to clear his name. A 1879 official review concluded Porter was innocent of wrongdoing and may have even prevented a more severe defeat. President Chester A. Arthur commuted his sentence, restored him to the military, and President Grover Cleveland later issued a full pardon.

Eugene V. Debs (1921)

From the inside of a jail cell, socialist politician/union leader Eugene Debs garnered nearly 1 million votes in the 1920 presidential election. He had been arrested for a 1918 for an antiwar speech and encouraging resistance to the military draft. Charged with sedition and violation of the Espionage Act, he got a 10 years prison time plus he was disenfranchised. After about two years Debs was freed by President Harding who commuted Debs’ prison sentence to time served but refused a full pardon. His citizenship was restored by a 1976 congressional act.

Jimmy Hoffa (1971)

Famous Teamster labor leaders James R. Hoffa received a controversial presidential pardon. As president of the influential Teamster union, Hoffa had scored several key 1964 worker victories but after government investigations Hoffa was convicted in two trials. He was sentenced to eight years for jury tampering and five years for mail fraud/improper use of Teamster fund. Jail in 1967, Hoffa served a few years before President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence. Critics argued there was a backroom deal for union support of Nixon’s reelection campaign. He disappeared from Detroit parking lot in 19674 and his body has never recovered. Some believe he was victims of a Mafia hit.

Ford Pardons Nixon (1974)

Accusations of malfeasance related to the Watergate scandal and impeachment procedures forced Nixon's to resignation. He avoided prosecuted and even jail time after a  new President Gerald Ford pardon. Ford’s pardon covered federal crimes Nixon had  committed or may have committed or taken part in” during his presidential terms. The pardon was very controversial and may have contributed to Ford's 1976 reelection defeat.

Patty Hearst (2001)

Nineteen year-old wealthy heiress Patty Hearst's 1974 hostage ordeal with radical guerilla group the Symbionese Liberation Army resulted in her voluntarily joining her captors. In only a few days she was part of a bank heist. Eventually after a year on the run she was captured by an FBI dragnet. Her brainwashed/abuse defense was not enough.  She was sentenced to seven-year sentence for bank robbery. It ended after 22 months when, at President Carter’s urging, President Bill Clinton issued a full 2001 pardon.

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