Pardon for Dead Hero
An item in the May 2, 1985, Kansas City Times reminds us of a story you may be able to use in an evangelistic message. The item had to do with the attempt by some fans of O. Henry, the short-story writer, to get a pardon for their hero, who was convicted in 1898 of embezzling $784.08 from the bank where he was employed.
But you cannot give a pardon to a dead man. A pardon can only be given to someone who can accept it. Now, for the story.
Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the United States Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. “A pardon is a slip of paper,” wrote Marshall, “the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.”
For some, the pardon comes too late. For others, the pardon is not accepted.