Which President has pardoned the most people since President Truman?

"President Andrew Johnson Pardoning Rebels at the White House", Harper's Weekly, October 14, 1865

Answer: Barack Obama


According to the Pew Research center, Barack Obama ended his presidency having granted clemency to more people convicted of federal crimes than any chief executive in 64 years.

But, but, but #1

With that said, he also received the most requests since FDR, per the chart below.

But, but, but #2

He received those requests “largely as a result of an initiative set up by his administration to shorten prison terms for nonviolent federal inmates convicted of drug crimes.”

But, but, but #3

“Obama granted clemency to only 5% of those who requested it. Truman, for example, granted clemency for 41% of the petitions he received; William Howard Taft and Wilson did so for 39% and 38%, respectively.”


President Obama greets inmates during a visit to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., July 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets inmates during a visit to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., July 16, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


What is Clemency Exactly

Clemency can refer to various forms of Presidential pardoning, which is important when taking statistics like these into account. The two most common forms are commutations and pardons. Commutations reduce prison sentences either partially or completely and pardons forgive past crimes and restore civil rights.

Clemency Granted Through Proclamation or Executive Order

The stats above were from an analysis of figures released by the Department of Justice. These figures do not take into account clemency granted through proclamation or executive order. Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter used this method of clemency to forgive thousands of Vietnam-era draft dodgers.


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President Ford appears at a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing regarding his pardon of Richard Nixon.


So far

Thus far in his Presidency, Trump has granted clemency to nine people.


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Jack Johnson & Jim Flynn, 1912. Johnson was posthumously pardoned by President Donald Trump in May 2018, 105 years after his conviction.


Cover Photo: “President Andrew Johnson Pardoning Rebels at the White House”, Harper’s Weekly, October 14, 1865