Gifford Pinchot to Jane Addams, January 2, 1924

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Governor's Office

January 2, 1924.

Miss Jane Addams,
800 [Halsted] Street,
Chicago, Illinois.

Dear Miss Addams:

Absence from Harrisburg has delayed answer to your telegram of December 18th concerning appeal from you, Norman Hapgood, Frank P. Walsh, Father John A. Ryan, Jeanette Rankin, Rev. John Haynes Holmes, and Harry F. Ward, for the release of four prisoners in Pennsylvania, on the ground that they are in prison solely for the expression of their beliefs. Won't you please identify the four prisoners, with such additional information as you have on hand? It is impossible to do anything about them until fully identified.

You and the others appealing for these prisoners will recognize immediately the fact that unless they are imprisoned illegally, for which habeas corpus proceedings would lie, they can be released only in accordance with our laws. Under direct provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution the Governor cannot pardon prisoners until he has before him a recommendation for such pardon, in writing, giving the reasons for pardon and signed by at least three of the four following State officials, namely: the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and the Secretary of Internal Affairs. I, as Governor, am absolutely bound legally and morally to proceed in harmony with the Constitution and laws of the State.

Therefore, before I can possibly act on a pardon for the prisoners you mention it will be necessary that they proceed according to the rules of the Board of Pardons, consisting of the four above named [page 2] officials, to place their cases before that Board in order that it may decide either to recommend or not to recommend. Upon recommendation, the Governor can refuse the pardon, but without such recommendation his pardon would have no validity.

Yours most sincerely, 

Gifford Pinchot [signed]