Starting a war without the consent of Congress, Vallandigham said, was the kind of dictatorial act “that would have cost any English sovereign his head at any time within the last two hundred years.” Echoing Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, he railed against the quartering of soldiers in private homes without the consent of the owners; the subversion of the Maryland government by arresting some twenty legislators, the Mayor of Baltimore, and Congressman Henry May; censorship of the telegraph; and the confiscation of firearms from private citizens.
All of these things, said Vallandigham, were done not “to save the union” but to advance the cause of “national banks . . . and permanent public debt, high tariffs, heavy direct taxation, enormous expenditure, gigantic and stupendous peculation . . . and strong government . . . no more State lines . . . and a consolidated monarchy or vast centralized military despotism.”
Such speech was said (by Lincoln) to discourage young Ohio boys from enrolling in the military and, through a Clintonian twist of logic, was therefore treasonous. The Republican Party made a big scene of handing the aged Vallandigham over to Confederate authorities in Tennessee in order to spread the myth that all political dissenters were spies or traitors. But the Confederates wanted nothing to do with Vallandigham, so he fled to Canada for he remainder of the war.
But Lincoln was not yet finished with Vallandigham. The political propaganda arm of the Republican Party was a secret society started in 1862 that became known as the Union League. The League spread hateful and false propaganda about any and all opponents of the Lincoln administration while lionizing the party and its leader. Frank Klement documents several huge lies that were effectively spread about Vallandigham by the Union League that served to “justify” Lincoln’s totalitarian act of deporting an outspoken political opponent. [more]