Showing posts with label Harding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harding. Show all posts

Monday, August 8, 2016

Obama Makes History on Two Fronts

Last Wednesday, President Obama granted 214 commutations of sentence, the most any president has ever granted in a single day. In doing so, he broke Franklin Roosevelt's previous record, of 151.

We searched through our data again and discovered President Obama also set another record: for the largest number of individual acts of clemency (pardons, commutations, remissions of fines and forfeiture, respites, etc.) granted in a single day:

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge
Prof Mark Osler kindly notes that these data would also exclude (in addition to amnesties, or group pardons) grants by Gerald Ford's Presidential Clemency Board - data which are not compiled in DOJ / OPA clemency warrant records. Interestingly, when recent presidents set these marks, it was hardly noticed and no one had any idea of context, whether or not any record had been set. Having gathered comprehensive original data on clemency, the Editor of this Blog is uniquely qualified to provide that context.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama: Second Only to Wilson and Coolidge in Commutations

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Ken Burns' "Prohibition": Epic Fail

Part Two of Ken Burns' latest film, Prohibition, aired tonight on PBS. This part of the series highlighted the tension between the Eighteenth ( or "Prohibition") Amendment (1919) and the Volstead Act, but completely failed to mention the fact that President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act (or National Prohibition Act). Congress overrode Wilson's veto within two days, however, and the game was on.

Consequently, filmaker Burns also failed to mention the fact that President Wilson set records in his use of the pardon power and a very large number of his pardons were granted to persons that violated laws related to drugs and intoxicating liquors.

Indeed, the only mention of presidential pardons (in this, THE Golden Age of presidential pardons) that Burns makes in the entire episode relates to the unsubstantiated rumors the Warren Harding's Attorney General, Harry Daugherty, sold pardons.

What a shame it is to see such an acclaimed filmaker miss such important marks in an elaborate effort.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Long-Forgotten Unforgettable Father Feinler

In June of 1921, the New York Times took Warren Harding to task for his pardon of former military Chaplain Franz J. Feinler. Feinler, who lived in South Dakota but was born in Germany, entered into service with the Army in 1909 as a Roman Catholic chaplain. He achieved the rank of Captain in the 13th Infantry and served overseas in 1917.

But General Pershing sent Feinler home and the Captain/chaplain was charged with having uttered “treasonable language” and having “endeavored to dissuade men in the army from taking part in the war against Germany.” Among eighteen specifications considered by a military court, Feinler was said to have justified the sinking of the Lusitania and the execution of a female British spy (Miss Edith Cavell) by the Germans. He was also accused of having uttered "disrespectful and contemptuous language" against Woodrow Wilson - ah, those were the days, eh? In 1918, Feinler was court martialed in Honolulu and sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor, a sentence that was then approved by the President.

But Father Feinler’s sentence was later reduced to four years by the War Department. In May of 1920, he was released on parole from the penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Secretary of War John W. Weeks then recommended his pardon. So, Feinler went from a fifteen-year sentence approved by President Wilson to a prison sentence of less than three years and a full and complete pardon from Warren Harding.

A Times Editorial described Feinler’s pardon as generally “beyond comprehension.” It suggested “professional politicians” might have understood Harding’s actions, but “nobody else” would. For that reason, the Times boldly predicted President Harding and Secretary Weeks would soon “discover” that a “good many people” disagreed with them. And the number of protestations would be “vastly larger than that of the people who [thought] what they did was wise.” The Times argued the “liberation of a criminal” like Feinler would do little to win or retain votes. But such pardons are “sure” to “cost the loss of a lot of them.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chart: Most Pardons Granted in a Singled Day




Click on chart to enlarge.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Amazing Case of Charner Tidwell

On March 22, 1922, Warren Harding granted a pardon to a person that many considered to be the American version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Charner Tidwell was from a well respected family, and just seventeen years old when he was convicted of the murder of one Jim Brown (a husband and father of three children) and sentenced to life in prison.

Bad things seemed to happen to those that were involved in putting young Tidwell away. The constable that arrested him drove his own car under the wheels of a speeding train. The U.S. marshal who detained him died of tuberculosis. The district attorney in the case experienced an "untimely death" as well. So, the judge who sentenced Tidwell, being somewhat superstitious, decided to visit the young man in prison. Unfortunately, the visit happened to come on a day that the prisoners had scheduled a riot. The judge was shot dead in the chest.
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