While much of the nation’s attention (though not the attention of the ITA writer Zach Wendling) turns to the vague Constitutional directive for our Chief Executive to, from time to time, give to Congress information of the State of the Union (be it in the form of a letter, as Presidents in the 19th century did, or in the form of a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, as suggested by fictional White House staffer Toby Ziegler in the TV series The West Wing) the much more important Constitutional clause concerning Presidential “reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States” is the subject of a sensational announcement from the National Archives today (and let’s face it: the National Archives rarely gets to make sensational announcements.)
Have you heard the story about how Abraham Lincoln’s last official act as President before his assassination was to pardon a Union soldier? Not true! Turns out the date on document in the National Archives supporting this claim was changed by a scholar to give the pardon the historically significant date of April 14, 1865. More from the New York Times here.