Mount Vernon in Knox County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Vallandigham's Speech, 1863
On May 1, 1863, Peace Democratic Party leader Clement L. Vallandigham spoke to 10,000 people from this spot. Vallandigham's party, known by their opponents as "Copperheads," opposed the Civil War as an encroachment on both individuals' and states' rights, and favored a peaceful settlement with the Confederacy. Shortly after the beginning of the war, President Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which requires the state to show cause for arrest, as an emergency wartime measure. Peace Democrats viewed the suspension as unconstitutional. Vallandigham's speech intentionally tested the stringent wartime laws against "implied treason."
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After two years of bloody battles with few Union victories, the Lincoln administration faced losing influence in several northern states. Lincoln once confided that he feared "the fire in the rear" (a reference to Midwestern dissent) as a greater threat to the Union than military reverses. General Ambrose Burnside ordered Vallandigham arrested; subsequently Lincoln banished him to the South. Vallandigham
Erected 2000 by Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company, Sons of Union Veterans of Knox County, and The Ohio Historical Society. (Marker Number 5-42.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Civil Rights • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Ohio Historical Society / The Ohio History Connection series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is May 1, 1863.
Location. 40° 23.62′ N, 82° 29.167′ W. Marker is in Mount Vernon, Ohio, in Knox County. Marker is at the intersection of High Street (U.S. 36) and Public Square, on the left when traveling east on High Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mount Vernon OH 43050, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War Soldiers Monument (here, next to this marker); Ellamae Simmons, M.D. (1918-2019) / "The Goal Will Be Met, So Long As We Persevere" (within shouting distance of this marker); Knox County Veterans Walk of HonorMary Ann Ball (within shouting distance of this marker); Mt. Calvary Baptist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Mt. Cavalry Baptist Church (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Jane Payne, M.D. (1825-1882) (about 700 feet away); Johnny Appleseed's Early Landholdings (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mount Vernon.
Also see . . .
1. Clement L. Vallandingham. Biographical entry for Vallandingham. (Submitted on October 22, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. The Fire in the Rear. Part of the New York Times Disunion Series, Rick Beard's article (5/8/2013)tells the story of Clement Vallandigham, his speech, arrest, expulsion to the Confederacy, and exile. On his return from exile:" While in Canada, Vallandigham also joined in a harebrained plot by the secret group the Sons of Liberty to overthrow the state governments in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois and form a Northwestern Confederacy. The Confederate government provided $500,000 to purchase guns, which were to be used by Confederates held in Northern prisons. The arrest of Vallandigham when he returned to the United States was to be the signal to launch this insurrection. Return he did, on June 14, 1864, but Lincoln elected not to arrest him and the plan fizzled." (Submitted on May 9, 2013.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 20, 2008, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 3,893 times since then and 96 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 20, 2008, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.