Cabinet Discusses Disposition of Congressman Vallandigham

May 19, 1863

President Lincoln decides to send Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham south to the Confederacy rather than north to Fort Warren in Boston.  Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary of today’s cabinet meeting: “The case of Vallandigham, recently arrested by General Burnside, tried by court martial, convicted of something, and sentenced to Fort Warren, was before the Cabinet.  It was an error on the part of Burnside. All regretted the arrest, but, having been made, every one wished he had been sent over the lines to the Rebels with whom he sympathizes. Until the subject is legitimately before us, and there is a necessity to act, there is no disposition to meddle with the case.

The New York Tribune of to-day has a communication on the Peterhoff mail question. It is neither so good nor so bad as it might have been. Am sorry to see it just at this time, and uncertain as to the author. Faxon names one of the correspondents of the Tribune, but while he may have forwarded the article he could not have written it.

Governor Sprague and Miss Kate Chase called this evening.  I have been skeptical as to a match, but this means something.  She is beautiful, or, more properly perhaps, interesting and impressive.  He is rich and holds the position of Senator.  Few young men have such advantages as he, and Miss Kate has talents and ambitions sufficient for both.’”

Decades later, Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote: “After this dicussion, Lincoln changed Vallandigham’s sentence from imprisonment for the duration of the war to banishment ‘beyond the Union lines’ into the Confederacy.  Over Burnside’s protest, the sentence was carried out and the prisoner was turned over to General William Rosecrans, with instructions to deliver him to the Confederates in Tennessee. “ Historian David Long “The importance of Vallandigham’s banishment was twofold.  First, it allowed rebel officials, who were already considering covert activities against the North, to confer with a prominent politician sympathetic to their cause.  Second, it caused an outpouring of support for Vallandigham across the loyal states, including most Regular Democrats, many of whom had objected to his tactics and tone before his arrest.”

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Published in: on May 19, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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