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.

Continue reading

Going Out With a Bang: My God, I’ve Shot Myself

Clement Vallandigham (July 29, 1820 – June 17, 1871)

It was going to be the biggest case of his life. Fifty year old Dayton Attorney Clement Vallandigham was to defend Thomas McGehan, who was charged with murder for a barroom brawl turned deadly in Hamilton, Ohio. Having been unable to find a jury un-swayed by newspaper reports in Hamilton, the trial moved to Lebanon.

Vallandigham and his partner, Daniel Haynes, formed a practice that had become “one of the best and ablest in the West”, with stories of Vallandigham making final pleas so persuasive that the jury was left in tears. Nobody researched more than he did, and he was adept at anticipating the rebuttal arguments of the opposing lawyers.

Continue reading