Clement Vallandigham (1820 - 1871)
Vallandigham was the Copperhead Democratic politician
who was convicted of treason and exiled by Lincoln, only to return and continue
his peace agitation.
Vallandighams family originally came
from Virginia, and they romanticized the South as a land of noble social ideals
and order. As an Ohio politician and congressman, he was a bitter foe of Republicans
and abolitionists. In 1859 he interviewed John Brown in prison and came away
convinced that there was a widespread abolitionist conspiracy to bring about
a civil war.
He was given direct military orders to stop
his calls for resistance to the war before he was arrested, convicted, and
exiled to the South. He used a disguise with a false mustache and a pillow
to sneak back across the border from Canada in 1864. The government decided
not to rearrest him, and he helped push through the peace plank at the 1864
it is amazing that our peopleAmericans, proud, boastful, freeshould
have submitted to usurpation and despotism.I am a Democratfor
the Constitution, for law, for the Union, for libertythis is my only
REFERENCE: Frank Clement, Copperheads
in the Middle West (1972).
Robert E. Lee (1807 - 1870)
Lee was the son of Light-Horse Harry
Lee, a cavalry hero of the revolution and a member of the great Lee family
of Virginia. When Robert was still a boy, his father sank into debtors
prison and disgrace, and eventually left the family.
An 1829 graduate of West Point, where he was
a distinguished student, the younger Lee married Mary Custis, a great-granddaughter
of Martha Washington, and became master of the Custis estate at Arlington.
Lee became a military hero in the Mexican War, and later commanded the soldiers
who captured John Brown at Harpers Ferry in 1859.
Politically a strong Whig, Lee was initially
very unsympathetic to secession. He always said, however, that he would follow
the decision of his home state regarding secession. When offered the field
command of the Union Army, he turned it down, and instead assumed command
of Confederate forces.
Lee had only 7,800 fully armed troops left with
him when he surrendered at Appomattox. Most of them wept when he rode by them
on his horse Traveler to say farewell. After the war he served as president
of Washington College, which was later renamed Washington and Lee College.
four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassing courage and fortitude,
the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming
numbers and resources.Feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish
nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuation
of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those
whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. (Farewell
Speech to Confederate Troops, 1865)
REFERENCES: Emory Thomas, Robert
E. Lee: A Biography (1995); George W. Gallagher, Lee
the Soldier (1996).
Ulysses S. Grant (1822 - 1885)
Grant was a national hero as the commanding
Union general in the Civil War, but his reputation suffered badly from his
two unfortunate terms as president.
Born in a log cabin in Ohio, Grant inherited
his mothers strong, silent, fiercely determined character but not her
marked religious bent. Although officially Hiram Ulysses, he
changed his name to Ulysses Hiram at West Point because he was
afraid he would be laughed at for his initials HUG. Later a
military error substituted Simpson for Hiram,
and he left it that way.
Grants drinking bouts in California were
partly caused by his having served a horrendous tour of duty in Panama and
by his separation from his family. He was totally devoted to his wife, Julia,
who often advised him during his years in politics.
After leaving the presidency, he took a grand
tour of Europe for two years and lived so lavishly that he was soon poverty-stricken.
He completed his memoirs, which are still greatly admired, while dying of
cancer of the throat.
Quote: I saw
an open fieldso covered with dead that it would have been possible to
walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without
touching a foot on the ground. (After the Battle of Shiloh, 1862)
REFERENCE: William McFeely, Grant (1981).
Salmon P. Chase (1808 - 1873)
Chase was Lincolns politically ambitious
secretary of the treasury.
He made his career as an antislavery lawyer
in Ohio. Although he aided many fugitive slaves as Ohio attorney general,
Chase was actually fearful of large black migrations to the North and hoped
that emancipation would keep blacks in the South.
In the 1860 Republican convention, Chase had
forty-nine votes before throwing them to Lincoln. He always considered Lincoln
a weak leader and in December 1862 conspired with some radical Republicans
in Congress to try to take control of the cabinet. But Lincoln invited the
conspirators into a cabinet meeting, where Chase was forced to express his
support of the president.
He wanted the nomination in 1864 but ran the
other way when the movement collapsed. After being extremely unhappy as chief
justice of the United States, in 1868 he maneuvered for the Democratic nomination.
Chase was self-righteous, opinionated, and difficult to get along with.
Quote: I think
a man of different qualities from those the President has will be needed for
the next four years. I am not anxious to be regarded as that man. I am quite
willing to leave [the choice] to the decision of those who think some such
man should be chosen. (Diary, 1864)
REFERENCES: John Niven, Salmon
P. Chase: A Biography (1995); David Donald, ed., Inside
Lincolns Cabinet: The Civil War Diaries of Salmon P. Chase (1954).
John Wilkes Booth (1838 - 1865)
Booth was the prominent Shakespearean actor
who assassinated Abraham Lincoln.
Booths father was Junius Brutus Booth,
one of the most famous actors of his time. Junius Booth eventually went insane,
and John Wilkes was always high-strung, moody, and emotionally unstable. Although
probably not actually insane, he did experience periods of wild fantasy and
irrationality. He would sometimes go into a rage at the sight of cats and
occasionally killed them.
The younger Booth was dark, handsome, and always
wore a long black cloak. He was especially popular with women and was said
to have had numerous affairs. His favorite roles were Hamlet and Macbeth,
but he also played popular melodramas.
He had planned to abduct Lincoln as early as
1864. Several of those he gathered for the assassination plot were feebleminded.
He visited Lincolns box the afternoon before the performance to arrange
the assassination. The barn where he hid after fleeing was set on fire by
Union soldiers, and Booth then evidently shot himself.
Quote: I am
not a murderer. I have done nothing that a soldier on the battlefield would
not do. I do not regret what I have done. (Statement to physician aiding
him, April 15, 1865)
REFERENCE: Albert Furstwangler, Assassin
on Stage (1991).