Joe Biden’s Ancestral Pardon from Abraham Lincoln

Joe Biden’s Ancestral Pardon from Abraham Lincoln

Joe Biden has granted a lot of people clemency during his presidency, and it turns out that one of his ancestors was granted clemency by none other than Abraham Lincoln. According to unearthed documents by WaPo in the National Archives, Biden’s great-great-grandfather, Moses J. Robinette, received a pardon in the mid-1860s after getting into a fight with a fellow Union Army worker that landed him in jail.

During the Civil War, Moses was working as a civilian veterinarian for the U.S. Army and got into a scuffle with a fellow soldier at the Army’s winter camp in Potomac in the spring of 1864. Allegedly, John J. Alexander, a wagon brigade chief, overheard Joe’s grandfather speaking ill of him to the cook in one of the tents, leading to an immediate confrontation that escalated into a fight. During the altercation, Moses was accused of pulling out a knife and stabbing John, leaving him with bleeding wounds.

The Trial

Following the incident, authorities intervened, and Moses was initially charged with attempted murder. However, during the trial, that charge was dropped, and he was convicted on other counts, including assault, inciting a dangerous fight, and violating military discipline. In his defense, Moses claimed that he was acting in self-defense and had no malicious intent towards John. Despite being found guilty on most charges, Moses was sentenced to two years of hard labor in prison.

After determining where to send Moses, he was transferred to the Dry Tortugas Islands near Key West, Florida. Fellow army officers who knew Moses wrote a letter defending his character, which eventually made its way to President Lincoln’s desk. After reviewing the case, Lincoln deemed the punishment imposed on Moses too severe and decided to pardon him. As a result, Moses spent only a month in jail before being released and sent home.


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