In the aftermath of defeat at Fredericksburg… One of Lincoln’s chief Congressional critics, Copperhead from Ohio, Clement Vallandigham gave a fiery speech before the House:
“The war for the Union is, in your hands, a most bloody and costly failure. The President confessed it on the 22d of September…. War for the Union was abandoned; war for the negro openly begun, and with stronger battalions than before. With what success? Let the dead at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg answer….”
No soldiers were waiting to arrest him… Vallandigham left Congress with little fanfare and was able to travel to Ohio to seek the Governor’s office without interference. Yet, revisionists argue that Vallandigham was the victim of Lincoln’s systematic assault on civil rights. Similar to the absurd argument of Lincoln’s belief in white supremacy, desperate historians seeking to leave their mark on his legacy attack his record on civil liberties while comparing him to Stalin.
Clement Vallandigham was arrested… but not for criticizing the Lincoln administration. Vallandigham did that on a daily basis on public record. Denouncing the war effort while encouraging recruits to desert in a hostile region (Cincinnati area) clearly violated government edicts handed down by a military Governor. Leave it to Lincoln to sum it up nicely:
“Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert? I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy.”