Clement Laird Vallandigham

Clement Laird Vallandigham was right. He told President Lincoln that the War was going to last for years and would cost hundreds of thousands of lives, but Lincoln said, “ninety days at the most.” Clement was only a congressman from Ohio, and he was a Democrat while the President was a Republican, so they had other differences.

Clement led the Northern Democrats in opposition to Lincoln and he became quite popular doing it, being known as “The Copperhead.”. Lincoln would do nothing against Clement while he was a Congressman, but the minute Clement lost his seat in a close race, Lincoln had him arrested and tried by a military court. Clement was a civilian and a very good lawyer, so his howls were heard all the way to the Supreme Court. But he was only one of 13,000 other men treated the same way.

Complaints by Republicans in Congress were that Clement was in sympathy with the South, and that he even had southern relatives. Of course he did as did many other Republicans. (They were also the author’s relatives—Henry Bruce Vallandingham’s story appears among these pages.) Lincoln could not have Clement killed—he was too popular for that. So he had Clement sent to the Southerners. In effect he was sent from the country.

Well, the South did not want Clement. They let him work his way to the east coast where Clement got a boat from Canada. There is Canada, Clement ran for governor of Ohio. He was winning, too, until Lincoln stepped in. It appears that Lincoln had troops from other states vote in Ohio’s election. Lincoln’s mignons arranged to have a minister write a story about a “Man without a Country.” This story, about a thinly disguised Clement Vallandigham, was to have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly just before the election to embarrass Clement and cost him the election. But the author was late and the story appeared in a later issue.

Whatever the case, there were more votes cast in that election than there were registered voters and Clement lost.

When the war was over and Lincoln had been killed, Clement resumed his life in Southern Ohio as a big time lawyer who made lots of money. He was inadvertently given a loaded gun to demonstrate a shooting to a jury, and he shot himself in the gut. It took four days for him to die. Born in 1820 and dying in 1870, he was a brilliant politician, orator and lawyer. And a first cousin, many times removed.

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