Book Nook: 'Lincoln's Northern Nemesis: The War Opposition and Exile of Ohio's Clement Vallandigham by Martin Gottlieb'
Have you ever heard of Clement Vallandigham? If you are a Southwest Ohio native you probably should have at least recognized his name. But you didn't, did you?
Clement Vallandigham represented the Dayton,OH region in the U.S. Congress in 1860. He was a Democrat and part of a wing within the party known as the Copperheads. Vallandigham and the Copperheads were deeply opposed to President Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. He was very outspoken and an irritant for Lincoln. In 1862, Lincoln and the Republicans made sure to support a more than capable candidate to oppose Vallandigham's re-election. Though it was an off year for the party that held the White House, they managed to unseat Clement Vallandigham. But were not able to muzzle him. He continued to speak out until finally going too far. The U.S. Army went to his home in Dayton and arrested him. They gave him a quick military trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to prison.
After the trial, Lincoln had second thoughts about the sentence because it almost made Clement Vallandigham a martyr. Insead of prison, it was decided to exile presumably the most annoying Daytonian of that era. He was taken down to the battle lines in Tennessee where the Union Army and Confederate forces were facing off. Clement Vallandigham had essentially been dumped into rebel hands. Thankfully, the rebels didn't want him either. This marked the beginning of a remarkable and strange journey for Clement Vallandigham.
Eventually, he went on to run for governor of Ohio. Some years later he died in a unique and unbelievably stupid way.
Martin Gottlieb has written a fascinating account of the life and career of Clement Vallandigham. If you don't know this story you should check out our conversation about this compelling piece of Dayton history. I guarantee you'll be amazed.
The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.