As granted by the Constitution, Presidents have the power to grant clemency in one or more of the following ways: granting a full pardon, commuting a sentence, or rescinding a fine.
Except for a single act of pardoning 264 Dakota Indians who attacked white settlers in the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, Abraham Lincoln sparingly utilized his ability to issue pardons or grant clemency while in the White House.
Lincoln acted only 79 additional times relative to his pardoning power. One of these occasions occurred on April 28, 1863 when Lincoln commuted the death sentence of Union Sergeant John Chase convicted of threatening and striking an officer. Lincoln ordered Chase to be imprisoned at hard labor for the duration of the Civil War “with ball and chain attached to his leg.”