Sunday, May 5, 2013

Clement Vallandigham Arrested

The north was not completely unified behind Abraham Lincoln and his conduct of the war. There was a significant movement for peace in the North. They were called Copperheads by their enemies as a reference to the snake, but they adopted the name, and wore the heads of Liberty cut out of copper pennies. The recognized leader of the Copperheads was Clement Vallandigham of Ohio, a U.S. Representative who had lost his seat in 1862 due to gerrymandering. He was a support of state's rights, saying the states had a right to secede and the federal government had no power under the constitution to regulate slavery. He said this in Congress on January 14th, 1863:
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 ... 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.... I have denounced, from the beginning, the usurpations and the infractions, one and all, of law and Constitution, by the President and those under him; their repeated and persistent arbitrary arrests, the suspension of habeas corpus, the violation of freedom of the mails, of the private house, of the press and of speech, and all the other multiplied wrongs and outrages upon public liberty and private right, which have made this country one of the worst despotisms on earth for the past twenty months; and I will continue to rebuke and denounce them to the end.... 
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.... 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, sepulchers, these are your trophies.... The war for the Union is, in your hands, a most bloody and costly failure. The President confessed it on the 22d of September.... War for the Union was abandoned; war for the negro openly begun, and with stronger battalions than before. With what success? Let the dead at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg answer....
His arrest
The government could not let Vallandigham remain free to express his opinion. 150 years ago today he was arrested for violating Burnside's General Order Number 38. The charges against him were that he criticized the war, and said that the government was despotic and was violating the people's rights. Vallandingham was denied the writ of habeas corpus, and tried by a military tribunal, which caused many to say that his civil rights were violated. He was convicted and sentenced to prison for two years for attempting to hinder the war effort. Lincoln upheld the conviction, but changed it to banishment to the Confederacy. He went there against his will, and traveled to Canada. From there he ran for Governor of Ohio. He was nominated by the Democrats but lost the election in a landslide. Nonetheless he remained an active part of the Democratic party.

Politicians including Vallandigham


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