Saturday, October 08, 2005

Peace in 1861


The Copperhead was right. He was a Congressman (D, Ohio) and a fierce opponent of Abraham Lincoln. His idea was to end slavery without a war. He and his party flat did not want to have a war over slavery. So you could call his party the Peace Party.

Abolitionists wanted war, and common sense was an enemy to them. The Copperhead predicted fairly accurately how long it would take to prosecute the War and how many deaths there would be. But no, President Lincoln estimated about ninety days for the War and not very many casualties at all. The Copperhead's name, by the way, was Clement Laird Vallandigham. Hindsight shows that it would have been far better and cheaper to free slaves and pay off their owners, which was one of the ideas advanced by Vallandigham. He was immensely popular in the North.

I have found a diary written by a Union supporter from Austin, Texas in 1864. He wrote, prior to the election of 1864, ". . . the political devils are putting forward their most desperate efforts to destroy the nation. They are holding conventions to bring out more candidates for the presidential office and to try to unite the rebels of the South and the Copperheads of the North so they can break down the men that are fighting the rebellion."

What is interesting about this man's observation is that in 1864 people were still trying to unite Copperheads and Rebels. That is to say, they were not yet united! As it turned out they were never united. Yet, Republicans in the House (and this is in the Congressional Record) had been yelling at Rep. Vallandigham, saying that since he had family across the Ohio River, he was in cahoots with the South.

I can safely state that his family did not even recognize the Vallandinghams of Kentucky, even if they were his first cousins (I am one of them). Clement was not a Southern sympathizer, he just did not want to go to war over the slavery issue. But in politics a half truth is even better than a full truth.

So Vallandigham stated the facts and was arrested by the military and tossed out of the country. We went to war, anyway. Common sense was very uncommon in 1861.

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