Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Significance of the Lardner Warrant

In a previous post, we noted:
... Lardner also reveals, for the first time, information which is the by-product of the effort that he is making to complete a book on the history of pardons in the United States. Namely. Lardner reveals that he has discovered a clemency warrant (hereafter referred to as the "Lardner warrant") that was signed by George Washington much earlier than the first officially recorded clemency warrant by the State Department (April 15, 1794, to one David Blair). By State Department records, Washington waited 1,511 days before granting the first pardon. The Lardner warrant, however, was signed on February 28, 1791, only 669 days into the administration. We will discuss the ramifications of this finding elsewhere.
Here is the place for such explanation:

From a political science standpoint, from at least the work of W.H. Humbert (1941), the benchmark for the first presidential pardon has been April 15, 1794. This is, in fact, the date that is written on the first warrant in State Department records (National Archives, Microfilm Set T967). But the Lardner warrant places the first pardon of the administration at the 669th day mark (click on chart to the left, where each benchmark is noted). The discovery of the Lardner warrant means the following:

1. At 673 days, President Obama remains the slowest Democratic president in history to exercise the pardon power. To date, despite thousands of new and pending applications, he has not yet granted a single pardon or commutation of sentence. The top five slowest Democratic presidents would be: Obama (673 days), Clinton (672 days), FDR (127 days), Carter (82 days), L.B. Johnson (30 days).

2. At 673 days, President Obama has also already passed George Washington (at 669). That means there is only one president slower to mercy than Barack Obama ... George W. Bush (at 699 days). So, the top five slowest presidents of all time would be: G.W. Bush (699 days), Obama (673 days), Clinton (672 days), Washington (669 days), J. Adams (536 days).

3. Will Obama pass Bush?

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