Friday, April 9, 2010

Eisenhower's "Tough Call"

The administration of Dwight Eisenhower may have featured the most famous rejections of a request for clemency (with all due respect to Mary Surratt and John Yates Beall). In 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were to be executed for their convictions for espionage. The Department of Justice received over three million letters requesting clemency for the couple. Pope Pius XII and Albert Einstein supported clemency as well  and thousands protested their execution outside the White House.

But, despite the trauma of the Rosenberg case, Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr. felt that “the most poignant instance” of Eisenhower's resistance to a pardon involved a draft dodger who opposed the war against Hitler. The guilty party went on to graduate from Columbia Law School, but could not practice law because of the previous conviction. Professors of law supported the application for clemency, but Eisenhower supposedly resisted the extension of clemency to someone who contributed to “distressing morale problems in the midst of the war.” A “second chance” was finally given, a year after the petition was filed, as a “Christmas pardon.”

No comments:

blogger templates | Make Money Online