MOUNT VERNON – On the square in Mount Vernon stands an Ohio Historical Marker with the following written on it: “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."
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 evaded the federal naval blockade and traveled to Canada, where he campaigned in exile for the governorship of Ohio. Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July 1863 defused the Peace Movement and helped assure Lincoln’s reelection. Vallandigham's arrest was the greatest challenge to free speech during the war.
So who was Vallandigham, why did he speak in Mount Vernon, drawing 10,000 people to the square? Come to ThePlace@TheWoodward [first floor facility at 120 S. Main Street in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio] on Thursday March 26 at 7 PM and find out as the 9th season of the Chautauqua Series brings Clement Vallandigham to speak once more in Mount Vernon. Doors open at 6 PM, the Harmony Brothers will provide a rich vocal blend to open the program and Clement will discuss his life at 7:45PM. This event is present on a donation basis by the members of Elixir and supported in part by a grant from the Ariel Foundation.
For more information on this program and future presentations in the series, call 740-392-6102 or visit www.elixirpresents.com or www.VisitKnoxOhio.org. To remember a gentle reminder of each program on the Sunday before each show, please contact Mike Petee at firstname.lastname@example.org.