” Serving as a member of Congress from Dayton, Ohio during the War to Prevent Southern Independence, his criticisms of the Lincoln regime earned him the reputation as the leader of the Democratic opposition.
The Republican Party smeared him and all other opponents as a “copperhead” a.k.a. snake in the grass. On May 5, 1863, sixty-seven heavily-armed soldiers broke into his home in the middle of the night and dragged him off to a military prison. This was done without any due process, as Lincoln had long ago illegally suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus.
He was said to be guilty of “discouraging enlistments” in the army with his criticisms of the Lincoln regime. A military order issued in the state of Ohio declared all such speech to be illegal, and military officers were to have dictatorial powers in deciding what kind of speech would be permitted there.
All of this was of course done at the direction of Abraham Lincoln.Lincoln apparently wanted Northerners to believe that all such critics were spies and traitors, so Congressman Vallandigham was deported to the state of Tennessee and placed in the hands of a Confederate Army commander.
The Confederates considered him to be an “enemy alien” and imprisoned him in Wilmington, North Carolina for a short time. Vallandigham was released and made his way via blockade runner to Canada, where he spent the rest of the war.The words that got Congressman Vallandigham deported are found in Speeches, Arguments, Addresses and Letters of Clement L. Vallandigham, first published in 1864 and reprinted and for sale today at Amazon.com.
Vallandigham’s first salvo against the Lincoln administration was a July 10, 1861 speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives entitled “Executive Usurpation.” In the speech he condemned Lincoln for “the wicked and hazardous experiment of calling thirty millions of people into arms among themselves, without the counsel and authority of Congress.
“As for Lincoln’s newly-invented theory that the American union was never voluntary, and that the founding fathers supposedly understood that if any state seceded the government would have a “right” to invade that state, murder its citizens by the tens of thousands, and bomb and burn its cities and towns to a smoldering ruin as was the policy of the Lincoln administration, Vallandigham gave the Congress a history lesson.
“He [Lincoln] omits to tell us that secession and disunion had a New England origin, and began in Massachusetts, in 1804, at the time of the Louisiana Purchase; were revived by the Hartford [Secession] Convention in 1814; and culminated during the [War of 1812] in [New Englanders] sending Commissioners to Washington, to settle the terms for a peaceable separation of New England from the other States of the Union.
“Congressman Vallandigham described Lincoln’s first inaugural address as having been spoken “with the forked tongue and crooked counsel of the New York politician [New York politician Thurlow Weed having been Lincoln’s campaign manager], leaving thirty millions of people in doubt whether it meant peace or war.”
He condemned the Republican Party for opposing “all conciliation and compromise” with the Southern states, and surmised that the reason for it was “the necessities of a party in the pangs of dissolution.”
They wanted a war to rally the people around their disintegrating party.But a “more compelling” cause of the war, said the Ohio congressman, was “the passage of an obscure, ill-considered,………………..