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Ken Burns & Michael Moore Present: Fahrenheit 1861 | Main | Smells Like Tween Spirit
November 30, 2005

As a complement to Ace's excellent preceeding post...

A Democrat to make Nancy Pelosi proud!

Clement Laird Vallandigham - Copperhead

Although the Democratic party had broken apart in 1860, during the secession crisis Democrats in the North were generally more conciliatory toward the South than were Republicans. They called themselves Peace Democrats; their opponents called them Copperheads because some wore copper pennies as identifying badges. A majority of Peace Democrats supported war to save the Union, but a strong and active minority asserted that the Republicans had provoked the South into secession; that the Republicans were waging the war in order to establish their own domination, suppress civil and states rights, and impose "racial equality"; and that military means had failed and would never restore the Union.

Sound familiar?

The most prominent Copperhead leader was Clement L. Valladigham a former Ohio Congressman from Dayton, Ohio. He was also a notorious, thinly-veiled, Southern sympathizer who made speeches, to anyone who would listen, calling the war, "wicked and cruel," and which was quite obvious to all. Then however, Vallandigham strayed beyond the realm of reality and suggested that the Republicans only wanted to end slavery to further their quest for a dictatorship.

But here is the part which makes me love Lincoln so much!

On May 5, 1863, a Company of the 115th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, dispatched to Dayton, Ohio by special train, broke into Vallandigham's house at 3:00 A.M. and arrested him. The former Congressman was taken from his home in a nightshirt and quickly transported to Cincinnati where he would be tried by a military commission the following day on charges of "treasonable utterances." Riots broke out in Dayton in response to the arrest, with fires destroying an entire city block. Troops from Columbus and and Cincinnati were brought in and martial law declared. Vallandigham was soon convicted of aiding the Confederates, and on May 19, 1863 President Lincoln ordered Secretary of War Stanton to see to it that Vallandigham was banished to "beyond the military lines of the United States and not be permitted to return, under threat of arrest."
Federal troops in Tennessee turned Vallandigham over to the Confederate Army on May 25, 1863. In June, President Davis of the Confederate States, having no use for Vallandigham, orders him to Wilmington, North Carolina to be guarded as an "alien enemy." That same month. Peace Democrats in Ohio nominate the the exiled and incarcerated Vallandigham for Governor. A committee of the Democratic convention demanded that President Lincoln reverse his ordered exile of Vallandigham. Lincoln refused. "Must I," Lincoln lamented, "shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert?" In October, Vallandigham, now exiled by the Confederate States to Canada, would be defeated for the Ohio Governorship by Democrat John Brough from Marietta. On June 14, 1864, one year after being exiled, Clement Vallandigham slips back into the country and arrives in Ohio wearing a feeble disguise that fails to deceive the Federal agents watching him.

There is a happy ending though!

In June of 1871, Clement Vallandigham, defending an Ohio man charged with murder, requested a change of venue to Warren County, Ohio. There, in his hotel room at the Golden Lamb Inn at Lebanon, Ohio, Vallandigham was rehearsing his final arguments to the jury. He would suggest that his client was innocent and that the victim had actually killed himself accidentally. To demonstrate the freak accident he proposed, Vallandigham planned to pull a similar pistol from his trouser pocket to demonstrate how it might accidentally fire. While practicing his arguments in his room at the Golden Lamb, Vallandigham pulled the pistol and, ironically, it fired, sending a bullet into his abdomen at point blank range. Clement Vallandigham, the notorious Southern-sympathizer from Ohio, once banished from the Union by President Lincoln, died the next morning at the age of fifty-one.

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posted by Tanker at 09:21 PM

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