'State your case, Tad.'
President Lincoln issued pardons for hundreds of subjects. Some were related to cases in civil courts, many applied to those in direct rebellion to the government, and a large number were military cases.
To honor the Great Emancipator's birthday this week (February 12, 1809), here's yet another example of Lincoln's mercy.
The Sanitary Commission of New York sent young Tad Lincoln a soldier doll, which the boy named Jack. The doll was dressed in Zouave uniform. It turned out, Tad was a tough disciplinarian to hapless Jack, who was constantly 'misbehaving.' The boys reported to anyone who would listen that Jack was found sleeping at his post, or guilty again of desertion, or some other crime. Tad and his gang usually sentenced the criminal to be shot at sunrise. Their toy cannon acted as firing squad. Afterward, the dishonored Jack would be buried, with full military honors, in the White House garden.
Miraculously, Jack would rise again and again to fight another day. And not learning his past lessons, he again acted negligently on duty. Tad must have been furious. Jack was guilty for the last time!
Major Watt was the White House gardener. Rather than see his colorful plot dug up yet again by some pranksters with a doll, he yelled at the boys: 'why don't you get Jack pardoned?' The boys gave this a thought, and soon were bounding up the stairs to find Paw - or, the commander in chief. This was going straight to the top.
Lincoln's secretary tried in vain to stop the noisy lads in the hall, but Abraham Lincoln opened the door and invited the party in. After a rush of words and emotion and fingers pointing at poor Jack, Lincoln calmed everybody down by saying, 'State your case, Tad.'
After a few minutes, Lincoln explained that it was a good law that no man shall twice be put in jeopardy of his life for the same offense. Since Jack had been shot and buried a dozen times, he was entitled to a pardon. He turned to his desk, on which so many pardons were to be signed, and wrote on his official paper: 'The Doll Jack is pardoned by order of the President. A. Lincoln.'