The Case of Clement Vallandigham


Vallandigham was a strong U.S political leader. He played a crucial role as a leader in Peace Democrats standing as an activist of state rights. He was born in New Lisbon, in 1820. In this book, Vallandigham presents the history of America history on the application of laws and authority. Therefore, this paper is to elaborate him as villain and victim as portrayed by Wheeler. He represents civil liberties during the time of war. The aspect denoted in the state of Ohio where he was arrested. The case also acknowledges Vallandigham being a victim of breaking the congress laws.


Vallandigham is arrested by military from one of the U.s soldiers company. This group was led by Captain Charles Hutton. Villain is clearly indicated as he is arrested in Cincinnati for trial over violation of law 38 of Burnside General. The law stated, “All persons who committed acts for the advantage of the enemies of our nation will be regarded as traitors, thus sentenced to death.” Vallandigham was regarded as a traitor of the country to its enemies (Wheeler 262). However, Vallandigham does not give time for the Captain, Hutton. Instead, he shouts to the soldiers and Captain that he had not committed any crime.  This shows the place of civil liberties during the time of ancient wars in America. The civil liberties have the power to rule and call themselves out of crime.

The former congressman betrays the country against its enemies during war. He covers himself from the crime through his civil power. This is shown when he fired three shots from his pistol. The soldiers are forced to disappear. He points out that it is Burnside who ordered authority to arrest him but dared him to his home. This absolutely indicates the bad values from the former congressman. The villain characteristics include accuses he made over Burnside and the firing of his pistol to draw away soldiers (Wheeler 262).  The escort from his home to the special train that took him to Cincinnati for trial shows the practices that promoted civil war in the country.

Villain can be shown when he is retained in the military prison. He writes a letter to Ohio Democrats arguing that he was in prison because of his political opinions. He identifies that his speeches on the rule of the constitution, laws, and the activities of military were the sole causes of his arrest. He states “Democracy” was its only crime. There arises conflict between Vallandigham and the congress. His victimization is observed through the rule of the constitution and civil rights on the bill of rights. However, this was irrelevant during the rule of President Lincoln (Wheeler 263).

My verdict on this case would be that Vallandigham was both a villain and victim. As a member of the jury of the trial of Clement Vallandigham, I would weigh the value of his speeches to the public. I would consider the positive and negative aspects that he was passing across the country. In April 12th 1861, at Philadelphia he is cheered after delivering a statement, “During their establishment I was a man and God forbid that I should live to see their fall” (Wheeler 263). This was an awakening to the congress considering it an insight to the people especially at those times of war. Villain is shown when he delivers speech in the House of Representatives attacking the President over gross executive. He argues on usurpation of power by the President (Wheeler 277).

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Vallandigham is a victim of the conflict between civilization and institutional slavery. Despite few westerners were eliminated, there was fear that the expansion of slavery would end at the West farms. To the result, majority of the Westerners were annoyed by the Scott Decision of 1857. This focused on the emerging of slavery into the West sates (Wheeler266). Vallandigham was greatly campaigning against such practices. He is a victim in this case because unlike other democrats who believed that any civil war was no theirs.  He took into civil war and set democratic speeches and policies. For instance, the resolutions he introduced in the House of Representatives in December 16, 1862.

The emerging U.S society had many problems. These include, price fluctuations in agriculture, poor urban working conditions, and economic depressions. The federal government was to be accountable for the problems, but people had no idea about the responsibility. The nation was not unified politically, culturally nor economically. The state was in various ways much decentralized. In addition, order, in the country, was established by the county sheriffs including their deputized groups (Wheeler 265).

President Lincoln and his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in the year 1862 denied the people the right of habeas corpus (Wheeler 268). Massive immigration was evident during the civil wars. The ethnic and religious diversity was increased due to these immigrations. The economic status largely based on agriculture. New farm land had emerged to the North, and there was an introduction of technology that included transport innovations and railroads. There was trade from the agricultural surplus (Wheeler 264). The creation of middle class workers was due to the emergence of the industrial revolution.

Many Democrats to the Northwest recognized the warning that President Lincoln had given in 1862, therefore, charging the war could not have been a win to them. However, remarkable resistance of the war the Ohio Congressman Vallandigham was a challenge to the Ohio House Government Representatives. He was determined to run the Ohio though Democratic statesman Hugh Jewett was a big obstacle. His speech on May 8, 1862 to the Democratic Members of the House suggested that he acknowledged the restriction of party organizations within proper limits (Wheeler 280).

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He can be seen Villain when sets a strategy to purposely disobey the General Burnside`s Order Number 38. This would enable him be arrested and appear and finally appear to the democratic delegates to deliver a speech at Mount Vernon. The speech he delivered thus was blistering that dared Burnside leading to his arrest (Wheeler 269). His arrest stands to date a point of argument whether it was due to political persecution or he had made public speeches that were beyond the limit of public expression during civic wars (Wheeler 274). For instance, the speech on the Great Civil War in the country pointed out the inauguration of Lincoln. This was with concern to firing Fort Sumter (Wheeler 283).


In conclusion, the arrest and prosecution of Vallandigham was both Villain and victim representation of the American civil wars and freedom movements. He states that the cause of the current difficulties resides on the nature of man and his continuous reign over power. He points out that the power to rule is guarded by the formation of governments (Wheeler 275). He was a victim of movement of freedom during civil wars. He proposed amendments of the constitution. However, this presents him villain as it would divide the nation it four sections (Pacific, North, West, and South). This is according to his speech in the House of Representatives.

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