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CLEMENT LAIRD VALLANDIGHAM (182o-71)

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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 862 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CLEMENT LAIRD VALLANDIGHAM (182o-71), American politician, was born in New Lisbon, Ohio, on the 29th of July 1820. He was educated in the common schools and afterwards studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1842. Elected tothe Ohio House of Representatives in 1845, he became one of the extremest of the state rights Democrats of his section, emphasizing his principles in the legislature in the local. and national party conventions, and in the columns of a newspaper, the Western Empire, which he edited at Dayton, Ohio, in 1847–49. From 1858 to 1863 he was in the lower house of Congress, where he was noted for his strong opposition to the principles and policies of the growing Republican party, his belief that the South had been grievously wronged by the North, his leader-ship of the Peace Democrats or Copperheads, who were opposed to the prosecution of the war, and his bitter attacks upon the Lincoln administration, which, he said, was destroying the Constitution and would end by destroying civil liberty in the North. Attempts were made to expel him, but without success. In 1863 he made violent speeches in Ohio against the administration, and for these he was arrested by the military authorities, tried by military commission, and sentenced to imprisonment. President Lincoln commuted this sentence to banishment, and Vallandigham was sent into the Confederate lines, whence he made his way to Canada. While in exile he was elected supreme commander of the Knights of the Golden Circle in Ohio and received the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio, but was defeated. In 1864 he returned to Ohio, took active part in the campaign of that year, wrote part of the National Democratic platform at Chicago, and assisted to nominate McClellan for the presidency. After the war he denounced the Reconstruction policy of the Republicans as unconstitutional and tyrannical, but in 1870, seeing the uselessness of further opposition, he advised his party to accept the situation and adopt new issues. He thus initiated what was known as the " New Departure " Democratic movement. Vallandigham was a good lawyer and a popular politician. He was fanatically devoted to the Constitution as he understood that document, and in his course during the war he was not, as his enemies asserted, trying to aid the Confederates, but merely desirous of restoring " the Union as it was." He died in Lebanon, Ohio, on the 17th of June 1871. See J. L. Vallandigham, Life of Clement L. Vallandigham (Baltimore, 1872) ; and J. F. Rhodes, History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 (New York, 1893-1906).
End of Article: CLEMENT LAIRD VALLANDIGHAM (182o-71)
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