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OUR DAILY DEVOTIONAL | My Daily Bread

Healing Time

J. Stephen Lang

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Healing Time

1868: On this date a political leader who grew up poor, had no formal education and was illiterate until his wife taught him to read and write, issued Proclamation 179 “granting full pardon and amnesty for the offense of treason against the United States during the late Civil War.”

Healing Time | Devotional

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:36

1868: On this date a political leader who grew up poor, had no formal education and was illiterate until his wife taught him to read and write, issued Proclamation 179 “granting full pardon and amnesty for the offense of treason against the United States during the late Civil War.”

The leader was Andrew Johnson U.S. president, a lifelong Democrat from Tennessee who was, amazingly, elected vicepresident in 1864 as the running mate of Republican Abraham Lincoln.

When his home state (goaded by its slaveowners) seceded from the Union in 1861, Johnson stubbornly retained his seat in the U.S.

Senate and for his loyalty was picked by Lincoln as running mate, in the hope of sending a message of reconciliation.

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Only a few days after beings worn in, Johnson found himself filling Lincoln’s shoes. The war was over; the forgiving and reconciling Lincoln was dead, and now the Republicans in control of Congress wanted Johnson to grind the defeated South deeper into the dirt.

When Johnson showed signs of being merciful, Congress tried but failed to impeach him.

Johnson was not a particularly devout man nor did he quote the Bible as often as Lincoln did. But he agreed with Lincoln that the war between two Bible-reading, church-attending regions that prayed to the same God for victory was shameful.

Johnson hated slavery and had no love for slaveholders, but by late 1868 he thought the defeated South had suffered enough.

As his pardon stated, it was designed to “secure permanent peace, order, and prosperity throughout the land, and to renew and restore confidence and fraternal feeling among the whole people.”

All former Confederates were unconditionally pardoned—even president Jefferson Davis who had been chained in a damp cell since the war’s end.

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The Christmas pardon was Johnson’s last presidential act of any importance.

He received hundreds of letters and telegrams from pastors and Christian laity from the North and South praising it as the finest thing he had ever done.

Prayer: Father, as we honor the birth of your Son, let us think on mercy, healing, and reconciliation. Amen.

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