United States Presidential Orders of Clemency, 1789 to 2017 (ICPSR 37128)

Version Date: Sep 26, 2018 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Mark William Osler, University of St. Thomas (Saint Paul, Minn.)


Version V1

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This dataset attempts to be a comprehensive listing of all pardons granted by United States' Presidents from Washington to Trump. The only president not represented in the data is the 20th president, President James A. Garfield. In total, the dataset contains 77 variables and 32,026 cases. About half of the variables are in character (string) format some of which contain actual dates. The original data was provided in individual Excel files separated by president and by term. Not all variables in the final data file were provided in each original data file.

The data includes variables that provide the recipient's name of the pardon, the date the pardon was granted, the offense committed, details regarding fines and prison stays, along with other details regarding the recipient.

Osler, Mark William. United States Presidential Orders of Clemency, 1789 to 2017. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2018-09-26. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37128.v1

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Users are reminded that these data are to be used solely for statistical analysis and reporting of aggregated information, and not for the investigation of specific individuals.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1789 -- 2017
1789-01-01 -- 2017-12-31
  1. This data was compiled by P.S. Ruckman, Jr. Professor Ruckman, a political scientist who specialized in clemency and its use, spent years in the National Archives compiling data on clemency grants dating back to the Washington administration. After he completed this work, he committed a horrible crime himself, murdering his two children before committing suicide. Shortly before doing so, he sent his work to Professor Mark Osler and others, with the notation "Would want you to have this and use freely." Corina Curry and Kevin Haas, "Final Messages from P.S. Ruckman Jr. Include Cryptic Social Media Posts, Emails of His Life's Work," Rockville Register Star, March 8, 2018. Professor Osler has chosen to make Ruckman's work available here, while noting the tragic provenance of that conveyance.
  2. The original data (65 files), deposited by the Principal Investigator, were provided in Excel format. ICPSR converted the files into a statistical program and standardized the variable names so that the files could be merged into a single file. This study was minimally processed besides the aforementioned work converting and merging the original files. Variable and value labels were not provided and do not exist in this public use dataset. Missing values were not designated either.

  3. ICPSR created the variable FILEID. Not every case in the original Excel files listed the president's name. This variable serves as an indicator to signify which file the data originally came from.

  4. The dataset is organized according to the order of United States' Presidents beginning with George Washington and ending with Donald Trump.


Longitudinal: Trend / Repeated Cross-section

All records of clemency granted by United States' Presidents.