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Remember Which Country Star Was Pardoned by a Would-Be President?

Ronald Reagan
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The story of how this legend was cleared of a crime he was jailed for is much more interesting than the actual crime. The future star was in his mid-30s when he was pardoned for an attempted robbery that resulted in a 15-year sentence. He got out after three years and was pardoned over 40 years ago, on March 14, 1972.

Merle Haggard was pardoned by then-California Governor Ronald Reagan after a lengthy appeal process. He’d later say he was shocked by the pardon, as he had no idea it was coming.

“They found that I was improperly convicted and had no representation because I was poor and things of that nature,” Haggard told CMT shortly after the president’s death in 2004.

Years later, he’d meet and play for Ronald and Nancy Reagan and come away feeling like royalty. Haggard had a lot of respect for the man who’d become the 40th president and always appreciated how his life changed as a result of the gracious act.

“He didn’t have to do it at all,” the legend explained, laughing. “He could have just snubbed his nose and went on to lunch.”

Next: Remember Which Oscar Winner Debuted in a Country Music Video?

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