On April 9th 1865 at the Wilmer McLean house in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, Robert E Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S Grant. A little over a month later on May 29th 1865, United State President Andrew Johnson issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon. There were fourteen classes of people who had been in rebellion against the Union, whom the Proclamation excluded. If you were a member of one these classes, you had to make a special application directly to the President. Lee wrote an application on June 13th 1865, which said, “Being excluded from the provisions of amnesty & pardon contained in the proclamation of the 29th Ulto; I hereby apply for the benefits, & full restoration of all rights & privileges extended to those included in its terms. I graduated at the Military Academy at West Point in June 1829. Resigned from the U.S. Army April '61. Was a General in the Confederate Army, & included in the surrender of the Army of N. Va. 9 April '65.”
Lee was made the president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia on October 2nd 1865, the same day he signed his Amnesty Oath in compliance with the Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon. He did not however receive a pardon nor was his right to citizenship returned.
It would not be until August 5th 1975 that through a joint Congressional resolution, President Gerald R Ford signed the paper giving Lee back his right to be a citizen of the United States.
Robert E Lee’s Amnesty Oath stated that, “I, Robert E. Lee of Lexington, Virginia, do solemnly swear in the presence of almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the states there under, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamation which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves, so help me God."