Historical Striking

Will President Bush Pardon Jack Johnson?

Folks, we’re getting down to the wire and I for one am excited to see if this pardon will be granted. As a rule, modern presidents tend to issue a whole slew of pardons right before leaving office rather than doing so earlier. That way, they don’t have to hear a bunch of grief about it during their presidency and there’s no chance of a pardoned convict then holding up a liquor store and embarrassing the administration.

President Bush is on record as not being big on pardons, but there has been a lot of support for the pardon of early 20th century boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champ.

For more details about Jack Johnson, his conviction, and the pardon process itself, check out the article I wrote a few years ago for EJMAS linked below. Since that article was written, there has also been a U.S. House resolution passed in support of the pardon, joining with the U.S. Senate and Texas Senate resolutions.

Jack Johnson was a fascinating individual with and interesting boxing style, mainly defensive, and I would recommend any of the handful of biographies out there about him. His own was a bit self-serving, but still enjoyable. The Ken Burns documentary is also worth a watch if you want the multimedia experience. The link below will get you started, as it contains reference to the biographies as well as a link to the pardon brief, which gives a synopsis of many of the major events in Johnson’s life.

Will Li’l Bush Pardon Li’l Arthur? Some Legal Background to the Jack Johnson Pardon Petition

[UPDATE on 1-20-2008, post-inauguration. No last minute flood of Bush pardons, and no pardon for Johnson. I think it is highly likely that the pardon petition will be resubmitted under the new Obama administration.]

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