Thursday, May 1, 2003

Ohio Moments

Civil War speech led to illegal court-martial


On May 1, 1863, former U.S. Rep. Clement Laird Vallandigham said the Civil War was being fought to free blacks and enslave whites.

Vallandigham was the leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle, better known as the Copperheads, who were Southern sympathizers.

Vallandigham was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1858 as a Peace Democrat, but was defeated for re-election in 1862.

After the speech, Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, commander of the Department of the Ohio, had him arrested, court-martialed (which was illegal, since he was a civilian) and sentenced to prison. President Lincoln commuted the sentence.

Ohio Democrats nominated him for governor in June, but John Brough defeated him. He resumed practicing law in Ohio in 1867.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361

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