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20 Feb, 2024 03:39

Biden’s ancestor court-martialed for stabbing colleague – WaPo

Historic records reportedly show that the US president’s great-great-grandfather was put behind bars and then pardoned by Lincoln
Biden’s ancestor court-martialed for stabbing colleague – WaPo

Newly discovered government documents have reportedly shown that an ancestor of US President Joe Biden was pardoned by Abraham Lincoln after being court-martialed for stabbing a fellow Union Army employee during the Civil War.

President Lincoln issued the pardon in September 1864, enabling Biden’s paternal great-great grandfather, Moses Johnson Robinette, to be released from prison and go home to his farm in Maryland, the Washington Post reported on Monday. Citing records from the US National Archives, the newspaper said Robinette had been sentenced to two years of hard labor after being convicted on multiple charges stemming from a fight at a Union Army camp in Virginia.

Robinette was working as a veterinary surgeon at the time, looking after the horses and mules that pulled artillery wagons. The fight occurred in March 1864, after a brigade wagon master objected to a comment that Biden’s ancestor made to a female cook, the documents revealed. Robinette slashed the wagon master, John Alexander, with a knife and failed to convince a jury that he had acted in self-defense.

“He grabbed me and possibly might have injured me seriously had I not resorted to the means that I did,” Robinette testified during his trial. Shortly after he began serving his prison sentence near Key West, Florida, three Union Army officers wrote an appeal for clemency, saying the surgeon had defended himself against a bigger and stronger man “under the impulse of the excitement of the moment.”

Robinette’s defenders also argued that he was loyal to the Union cause and had opposed the schemes of traitors who sought to destroy the government. “Think of his motherless daughters and sons at home,” they added.

US Senator Waitman Wiley, a West Virginia Republican, recommended a pardon, saying Robinette had been given “a hard sentence on the case as stated.” After a review of the case, Lincoln issued an order of “pardon for unexecuted part of punishment.”

Robinette was the grandfather of Mary Elizabeth Robinette, the mother of Biden’s father. He returned to Allegany County, Maryland, after his release from prison and died in 1903. His obituary made no mention of his court-martial and praised him as a “man of education and gentlemanly attainments.”

Historian David Gerleman, who wrote the Washington Post article, said the newly unearthed records helped to “fill in an unknown piece of Biden’s family history.” Robinette’s trial transcript, which was “unobtrusively squeezed” among those from hundreds of routine court-martial cases, revealed a “hidden link between the two men – and between two presidents across the centuries,” he added.

Fox News said the White House did not respond to questions regarding whether Biden was aware of his ancestor’s stabbing incident and pardon.