Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries2 Minutes

In 1864, during the intense days of the U.S. Civil War, Andrew Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee, was chosen to be the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. He was selected in the hope that he might broaden the appeal of President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican.

When Lincoln was assassinated after the election, Johnson became President. He faced many stormy issues, complicated because he was not very popular.

As the Civil War ended, many in the North urged revenge on the South. But Johnson sought reconciliation instead. In May 1865, he proclaimed amnesty for any Confederate who would swear allegiance to the Union. And as Christmas approached that year, he felt it was appropriate to do something more.

He realized that the Constitution gave him the power to pardon. So, on Christmas Day 1865, he issued a “Christmas pardon,” pardoning all who had served the Confederacy (except high-ranking military and civil officials).

Although many Northerners were outraged, Johnson, who had been raised in a Christian home, felt it was the right thing to do. He commented, “It seems to me that the day on which Jesus Christ was born is just the right time to put a stop to the cry for blood.”

This began a tradition of Christmas pardons. In fact, the U.S. Justice Department still has an Office of the Pardon Attorney, issuing pardons each year.

Johnson’s action reminds us that Jesus was born that all of us might be forgiven unconditionally, no matter what we have done, and that none of us deserves God’s mercy. Make sure that you have been forgiven, and accepted the finished work of Jesus. Be grateful that He came as a baby and died for your sins. Remember that His mercies are new today and every morning.