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Theodore Roosevelt and the Pardon Power

31 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2013  

P. S. Ruckman Jr.

Rock Valley College; Pardon Power Blog

Date Written: October 1, 2012


Although Theodore Roosevelt is a popular focus of research and commentary, I am aware of no detailed analysis of his use of the pardon power, either as governor or president, systematic or otherwise. This paper explores Roosevelt's public commentary on pardons and compares it with his actual use of the power. Data are presented on the number of pardons, the offenses addressed as well as the reasons/justifications for the grants. I then show that the circumstances in which Roosevelt exercised clemency are remarkably similar to the clemency environment today. The difference is the manner in which recent presidents have responded to that environment. Finally, I note that recent scholars and observers of the pardon power have increasingly become attracted to a model that Roosevelt strongly supported: the creation and use of a separate and independent board to administer the pardon power.

Keywords: president, pardon, pardons, Roosevelt, clemency, pardon power, commutations

JEL Classification: K14, K40

Suggested Citation

Ruckman, P. S., Theodore Roosevelt and the Pardon Power (October 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

P. S. Ruckman Jr. (Contact Author)

Rock Valley College ( email )

3301 North Mulford Road
Rockford, IL 61114
United States
8159217821 (Phone)


Pardon Power Blog ( email )

3301 North Mulford Road
Rockford, IL 61114
United States

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