Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Lot 141

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(1809-1865) Sixteenth President of the United States who led the Union through the Civil War and emancipated the slaves, assassinated. Important partly-printed D.S. "Abraham Lincoln" as President, 1p. 4to., Washington, June 13, 1863 authorizing the Secretary of State "to affix the Seal of the United States to a Warrant for the pardon of Daniel Dusk[e]y and Jacob Varner..." Duskey and Varner were members of the Calhoun County Moccasin Rangers, Confederate partisans based in West Virginia. Duskey was a commander of one squadron of the rangers and made his most spectacular raid on the town of Ripley in Jackson County on the night of Dec. 19, 1861. Duskey and twelve of his men descended on the town, capturing it without any causalities, and set about looting the town including the post office. Several weeks later Duskey, Varner and several other rangers were captured and then indicted for robbing the U.S. post office at Ripley. The indictment led to a involved debate on the status of irregular forces and the rights of combatants. In federal court at Wheeling in April 1862, the defense did not deny the charges, arguing instead that Duskey and Varner actions were acts of war, not criminal offences. Since neither of them were regularly enrolled in the Confederate Army, the acts were considered criminal by the federal authorities and an unimpressed jury sentenced Duskey to four years and Varner to three years imprisonment. The act infuriated Confederate authorities. In November 1862, two Union officers and 12 enlisted men were captured by Gen. John B. Floyd's force in Logan County. While the enlisted men were treated as prisoners of war, the two officers were sent to Richmond to be held as hostages for the release of Duskey and Varner and were treated as common felons. On Jan. 2, 1863 Virginia Governor John Letcher wrote Lincoln informing him of the action, and threatened further reprisals if Duskey and Varner were not recognized as prisoners of war. Not wishing to see more hostage taking by the Confederates, Lincoln agreed to an exchange. However, because the two men were convicted felons in a federal prison, a pardon was required. As the case bounced around between departments in the Executive Branch, relatives in Varner and Duskey's home state began circulating petitions for their release. A Col. W. Hoffman reviewed the case and found a legal justification for pardon noting that recently rebel authorities had begun to recognize the combat status of guerrillas and irregulars. That opinion, together with letters from the jurors, the presiding judge, the district attorney, U.S. Marshal, and Postmaster General Montgomery Blair concurring, Lincoln finally acted, noting, "As the Judge, Jury, Marshall, District Attorney, and Postmaster General join in asking a pardon in this case, I have concluded to grant it." Duskey and Varner were released and sent home in June and the Union officers were paroled on July 1 and later exchanged. Only a hint of age toning, else fine condition with a good, dark signature. Matted and framed. Not examined out of frame.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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