On this day 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln reluctantly let an execution go forward. Lincoln hated having to execute men for desertion, and frequently studied the records in such cases to see if he could find a way to pardon or commute these sentences. Unfortunately for someone named "Dawson," Lincoln felt that the record showed "too strong a case for a pardon or commutation."
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, April 25, 1864.
MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE, Army of Potomac:
A Mr. Corby brought you a note from me at the foot of a petition I believe, in the case of Dawson, to be executed to-day. The record has been examined here, and it shows too strong a case for a pardon or commutation, unless there is something in the poor man's favor outside of the record, which you on the ground may know, but I do not. My note to you only means that if you know of any such thing rendering a suspension of the execution proper, on your own judgment, you are at liberty to suspend it. Otherwise I do not interfere.