1985, Reflections on the Presidential Clemency Power

Richard A. Saliterman


Ten years ago our nation was torn by a civil and legal strive paralleled, perhaps, only by the crisis that challenged the nation during the Civil War.  For the first time in history, a United States president had resigned from office.  For the first time in recent history, the United States military, the State Department and other departments of the executive branch, and the Congress all had come under broad, scathing criticism.  Some critics argue that as a nation we were wrong in becoming involved in the Vietnam War; other critics were disturbed by the fact that for the first time in our nation’s history, we either had lost or were losing a war.  Social institutions that had traditionally served as a stabilizing force in our society – churches, universities, and even art and cultural centers – experienced the social tremors.  Even today the outlines resulting form tremors of the Vietnam era have not been fully mapped.

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