Lot 24: Manuscript DS, signed "James K. Polk" as president and "James Buchanan" as secretary of state, one page both sides, 10 x 15.5, January 28, 1848. President Polk issues a pardon. In part: "Whereas…John Harding was convicted of manslaughter on the high seas and sentenced to be imprisoned in the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, for the term of three years, to pay a fine of one dollar…and whereas the warden of said prison, represents that since the commitment of said Harding his conduct has been good…Now be it known that I, James K. Polk, President of the United States of America…do hereby grant unto him, the said John Harding, a full and unconditional pardon." Boldly signed at the conclusion by Polk and countersigned by Buchanan. The white paper seal affixed to the lower left remains fully intact. Intersecting folds (vertical folds lightly passing through a couple letters in signatures), trimmed edges and clipped corners, and foxing to seal, otherwise fine condition. Harding had taken part in a mutiny aboard the barque Cactus and was accused of murdering the second mate in the fracas. According to the captain's testimony during the 1846 trial, Harding struck his fellow crewman in the head with a handspike to kill him. Harding was at first convicted of murder, which was reduced to manslaughter on appeal. Polk is uncommon in general and is exceptionally desirable in combination with Buchanan; manuscript presidential pardons such as this are also quite scarce, particularly with such intriguing content.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 466
Wednesday, 9th December 2015
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