This Day in History – May 1st, 1863

In a speech in Mount Vernon on May 1, 1863, Clement Laird Vallandigham declared that the Civil War was being fought to gain “the freedom of the blacks and the enslavement of the whites.

He went on to say that President Abraham Lincoln was using the war as an excuse to squelch Constitutional rights.

Days later, federal troops broke down the door at his home on Wilkinson and First Streets in Dayton. He was arrested for violation of General Order 38, which prohibited declarations of sympathy for the Confederacy.


This order had been issued that prior April 13th by General Burnside. Vallandigham was sentenced to prison for the war’s duration. Dayton supporters rioted and burned a city block, so President Lincoln commuted the sentence to banishment and Vallandigham was deported to the Confederate States of America.

Democratic supporters nominated Vallandigham for governor of Ohio and he moved back. A few years after losing to Republican candidate John Brough, Vallandigham returned to practicing law. While defending a murder case in 1871, Vallandigham accidentally shot himself while recreating how he thought the “murder” victim accidentally shot himself while removing the gun from his coat pocket. Vallandigham died the next day of his injuries and his client was acquitted.

Read more about Vallandigham’s last case here.

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