George S. E. Vaughn (sometimes spelled George Vaughan or George E. Vaughn) (1823 – August 26, 1899) was a convicted Confederate spy during the American Civil War who was pardoned by Abraham Lincoln an hour before Lincoln's assassination in the President's last official act.
Green, while camping at Tupelo, Mississippi, dispatched Vaughn to deliver letters to his wife in Canton. Vaughn was captured six miles south of Canton at La Grange, Missouri. The letters were found, and Vaughn was accused of being a spy and was sentenced to be shot.
Missouri Senator John B. Henderson intervened with Lincoln to get a new trial, but the verdict was the same. Henderson got Lincoln to approve yet a third trial and again the verdict was the same.
On the afternoon of April 14, 1865, Henderson appealed again to Lincoln telling him, "Mr. Lincoln, this pardon should be granted in the interest of peace and conciliation."
Lincoln was said to have replied, "Senator, I agree with you. Go to Stanton and tell him this man must be released."
Henderson went to the office of Edwin M. Stanton and Stanton refused, saying the execution was to be carried out in two days. Henderson returned to the White House where he met the President dressed to go to Ford's Theatre.
Lincoln wrote a message on official stationery an order for an unconditional release and pardon telling Henderson, "I think that will have precedence over Stanton."
After the war, Vaughn moved to Maryville, Missouri, where he died.
- Lincoln in story; the life of the martyr-president told in authenticated anecdotes,by Silas Gamaliel Pratt - New York, D. Appleton and co., 1901 (available on print.google)]
- George E. Vaughn Dead - Lincoln's Last Official Act Was To Pardon Him As Spy - New York Times - August 28, 1899
- Kansas City Public Library Profile
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