Clement Laird Vallandigham was born New Lisbon, Ohio (now Lisbon, Ohio), the fifth of seven children of Clement Vallandigham, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife Rebecca Laird Vallandigham.
|Edwin Stanton and Son|
Vallandigham was skeptical of Lincoln’s inaugural address, arguing that he could not determine whether the president was for war or for peace. However, when the firing on Fort Sumter took place on April 12, he resisted the tide of public opinion that supported war and stuck to the position that he had articulated since the fall of 1860. When Lincoln called upon the states for 75,000 men to put down the rebellion, Vallandigham publicly commented, “I will not vote to sustain or ratify—never! Millions for defense; not a dollar or a man for aggressive and offensive civil war.”
"To maintain the Constitution as it is, and to restore the Union as it was."
|Clement Vallandigham, seated first on left, with Copperhead Congressmen|
Soon after the war began the reign of the mob was… supplanted by the iron domination of arbitrary power. Constitutional limitation was broken down; habeas corpus fell; liberty of the press, of speech, of the person, of the mails, of travel, of one’s own house, and of religion; the right to bear arms, due process of law, judicial trial, trial by jury, trial at all; every badge and monument of freedom in republican government or kingly government–all went down at a blow; and the chief law-officer of the crown–I beg pardon, sir, but it is easy now to fall into this courtly language–the Attorney-General, first of all men, proclaimed in the United States the maxim of Roman servility: Whatever pleases the President, that is law! Prisoners of state were then first heard of here. Midnight and arbitrary arrests commenced; travel was interdicted; trade embargoed; passports demanded; bastiles were introduced; strange oaths invented; a secret police organized; “piping” began; informers multiplied; spies now first appeared in America. The right to declare war, to raise and support armies, and to provide and maintain a navy, was usurped by the Executive….
And now, sir, I recur to the state of the Union to-day. What is it? Sir, twenty months have elapsed, but the rebellion is not crushed out; its military power has not been broken; the insurgents have not dispersed. The Union is not restored; nor the Constitution maintained; nor the laws enforced. Twenty, sixty, ninety, three hundred, six hundred days have passed; a thousand millions been expended; and three hundred thousand lives lost or bodies mangled; and to-day the Confederate flag is still near the Potomac and the Ohio, and the Confederate Government stronger, many times, than at the beginning….
Thus, with twenty millions of people, and every element of strength and force at command–power, patronage, influence, unanimity, enthusiasm, confidence, credit, money, men, an Army and a Navy the largest and the noblest ever set in the field, or afloat upon the sea; with the support, almost servile, of every State, county, and municipality in the North and West, with a Congress swift to do the bidding of the Executive; without opposition anywhere at home; and with an arbitrary power which neither the Czar of Russia, nor the Emperor of Austria dare exercise; yet after nearly two years of more vigorous prosecution of war than ever recorded in history;… you have utterly, signally, disastrously–I will not say ignominiously–failed to subdue ten millions of “rebels,” whom you had taught the people of the North and West not only to hate, but to despise….
You have not conquered the South. You never will. It is not in the nature of things possible; much less under your auspices. But money you have expended without limit, and blood poured out like water. Defeat, debt, taxation, sepulchres, these are your trophies….
Slavery is the cause of the war. Why? Because the South obstinately and wickedly refused to restrict or abolish it at the demand of the philosophers or fanatics and demagogues of the North and West. . . . It was abolition, the purpose to abolish or interfere with and hem in slavery, which caused disunion and war. Slavery is only the subject, but Abolition the cause of this civil war. It was the persistent and determined agitation in the free States of the question of abolishing slavery in the South…
I see more of barbarism and sin, a thousand times, in the continuance of this war, the dissolution of the Union, the breaking up of this Government, and the enslavement of the white race, by debt and taxes and arbitrary power.
I accept the language and intent of the Indiana resolution, to the full–”that in considering terms of settlement, we will look only to the welfare, peace, and safety of the white race, without reference to the effect that settlement may have upon the condition of the African.”
...The people begin, at last, to comprehend, that domestic slavery in the South is a question; not of morals, or religion, or humanity, but a form of labor, perfectly compatible with the dignity of free white labor in the same community, and with national vigor, power, and prosperity, and especially with military strength….Predictably Vallandigham’s speech generated a good deal of attention in the press. Vallandigham returned to Dayton as a private citizen. His return was marked by a Democratic rally, where the former congressman delivered a scathing rebuke of the Lincoln administration. Concerned that Republican power was a threat to constitutional liberties, Vallandigham spoke frequently in Ohio and other parts of the country. The tone of his speeches became increasingly critical of administration policy on civil rights and free speech.
That hereafter all persons found within our lines who commit acts for the benefit of the enemies of our country, will be tried as spies or traitors, and, if convicted, will suffer death. . . . Persons committing such offences will be at once arrested, with a view to being tried as above stated, or sent beyond our lines into the lines of their friends.
On May 5, 1863, Vallandigham was arrested at his home at 2 a.m. as a violator of General Order Number 38. When Vallandigham refused to grant the soldiers admission, they forcibly broke down the door. The soldiers pursued a retreating Vallandigham into his home as his frightened wife screamed. Hoping to attract attention to his plight, Vallandigham fired a gun out the window. Eventually pinned in an interior room with no escape, he eventually surrendered with the words, “You have now broken open my house and over powered me by superior force, and I am obliged to surrender.”
|Illustration, Arrest of Clement Vallandigham|
On May 30, 1863, there was a meeting at Military Park in Newark, New Jersey, where a letter from New Jersey Governor Joel Parker was read. His letter condemned the arrest, trial and deportation of Vallandigham, saying they "were arbitrary and illegal acts. The whole proceeding was wrong in principle and dangerous in its tendency." On June 1, 1863, there was a protest meeting in Philadelphia.
|A RARE OLD GAME OF "SHUTTLECOCK." |
JEFF - "No use sending him here. I'll have to send him back"
ABE - He's none of mine anyhow."Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
June 20, 1863
|Cartoon about the Vallandigham Guberatorial Campaign|
"Shall there be free speech, a free press, peaceable assemblages of the people, and a free ballot any longer in Ohio?"
|The Man Without a Country|
|Grave of Reverend Clement |
& Rebecca Laird Vallandigham
|Cartoon, "HowColumbia Receives McClellan's Salutation from the Chicago Platform"|
|Election Poster Against McClellan, Pendleton and Vallandigham|
|1864 Cartoon Lampooning the Copperheads and Peace Democrats|
|The Golden Lamb|
He died the next morning, Saturday, June 17, 1871. He was 50 years old.
In 1872, his older brother, Reverend James Vallandigham, published a biography, A Life of Clement Vallandigham.
A Life of Clement Vallandigham
|Golden Lamb Room where Vallandigham died|