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Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Other
Ohio "Peace Democrat" and copperhead who served as U. S. Representative, was banished to the Confederacy and returned to Canada to run for governor from Ontario.
Of Flemish origin, Vallandigham's name was originally Van Landeghem. His father was a preacher in Columbiana County, Ohio for more than 30 years, living in New Lisbon. Clement Laird Vallandigham was born in New Lisbon on July 29, 1820 and had learned the alphabet at the age of two. At eight, he was studying Latin and Greek at home. After a year at college young Vallandigham became principal of Union Academy in Maryland.
After the death of his father in 1839 Vallandigham returned home and became involved in the Election of 1840. Even then Clement was something of a rebel, demanding to be dismissed from Jefferson College when admonished for interweaving political opinion in a Constitutional law recital. He continued his study of law and became an attorney in New Lisbon. Following the Democratic win in the Election of 1844, Vallandigham ran unopposed for a seat in the state legislature in 1845. On December 8, 1845, Clement Vallandigham rose in the assembly and addressed his peers for the first time on a minor administrative issue.
His first political statement came later that month. After seven years of a depressed economy, Vallandigham spoke adamantly for the repeal of the Ohio State Bank Act. The following year he honed an anti-tax message that was ahead of its time. The Ohio mainstream Democrats viewed the lanky Vallandigham as being to the right of the party. He also supported the repeal of a "retrenchment" bill that rolled back wages in the government. In three months time the young Democrat had become known throughout the state.
In 1846 he was pitted against another representative from his area in a popular election. His constituency returned him to Columbus. On December 7, 1846, Vallandigham was elected speaker of the Ohio state house. In between his first and second year, the United States entered the War with Mexico, a war he defended in session on December 15, calling it a Constitutional War. Whig, who opposed the war, responded with attacks on his speech and Vallandigham as a person.
The Democrat rose and said, within the context of his speech "...as a friend to our peculiar system in its true spirit, and as a State-Rights man..." Vallandigham also tabled a Whig motion supporting the Wilmot Proviso. According to the speaker, his comments were "imperfectly reported," but he did believe that "the agitation (the Proviso)" would lead to "civil war and disunion." Before this contentious session came to a close, Vallandigham would vote for a call for a convention to rewrite the state constitution rewriting, against a Whig petition for Ohio to withdraw from the United States and against a bill to repeal the "Black Laws." All bills failed to pass the Ohio house.
He returned to New Lisbon to practice law, but that summer accepted a position as editor of the Democratic newspaper Western Empire. After leaving the Empire in 1849, Vallandigham tried to run for Lieutenant Governor of Ohio in 1851 but lost in the Democratic primary.
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Clement Vallandigham was last changed on - May 18, 2007
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