Politics & Government
5:00 pm
Tue April 12, 2011

State Senators Pardon Reconstruction Era Governor

State senators have pardoned a Reconstruction-era governor who was impeached and driven from office nearly a century and a half ago.

Governor William Holden was elected after the civil war in 1868 with the support of recently freed slaves and mountain Republicans. During elections two years later, the Ku Klux Klan terrorized black voters to keep them from the polls. Holden called up a militia to fight the Klan, but enough white conservatives were elected to the legislature that they impeached the governor the next year. Republican Senate President Phil Berger says pardoning Holden in today's Senate is the right thing to do.

Phil Berger: "It does address what a lot of historians feel was something that was a wrong in our history, and the Senate in 1871 is the body that took that action."

Today the Senate voted unanimously to pardon Holden in a special session held at the old Capitol building. The joint resolution now goes to the House, where it has already gained preliminary approval.