Thursday, May 5, 2011
A Man With No Country
Clement Laird Vallandigham was born in New Lisbon, Ohio July 29th 1820, the son of Clement and Rebecca [Laird] Vallandigham. He graduated from Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. Following graduation Vallandigham moved to Tibet, Ohio and opened a law practice in 1842. Vallandigham was a Democrat and was elected to the Ohio State legislature in 1845. He ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1856 and was narrowly defeated, but was elected in the next term and was serving when the Civil War began.
With the Civil War in force the population of Dayton, Ohio decided they didn’t want Vallandigham in 1862. This was primarily do to Vallandigham’s staunch support of Constitutional State’s Rights. He believed states had the right to secede, and that the Union government had no constitutional right to regulate the legal institution of slavery, nor use military force to subdue the Confederacy. Vallandigham was the leader to the Copperheads and created their slogan "To maintain the Constitution as it is, and to restore the Union as it was." Union General Ambrose E Burnside issued General Order Number 38, which stated that in Ohio any sympathy for the enemy would not be tolerated. Vallandigham gave a speech charging that the Civil War was being fought not to save the Union but to free slaves, he denounced the war and called for President Abraham Lincoln to be removed on May 1st 1863. On May 5th 1863 he was arrested. Vallandigham was tried in military court May 7th 1863 and sentenced to 2 years of prison. Instead of being sent to prison Lincoln ordered him sent to the Confederacy under military guard. After crossing over in Tennessee to the Confederacy, Vallandigham took a blockade runner to Bermuda, and then a ship to Canada. Once in Canada he declared his candidacy for Governor of the State of Ohio. Ohio Democrats nominated him by a vote of 411 to 11, and Vallandigham set up a campaign office in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. His campaign platform was for freedom, and for the State of Ohio to secede from the Union. He lost the race in 1863, but in 1864 Vallandigham appeared at the 1864 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Vallandigham wrote the “peace plank” for the convention and was included on the ticket as the Secretary of War.
Following the war Vallandigham returned to Ohio where he pick back up his law practice. He ran unsuccessfully for United State Congress. Vallandigham accidentally shot himself while defending a man for a killing in a bar room fight. He died from this shot June 17th 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio and is buried in the Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.
For more about this subject Ohio History - Clement Vallandigham