One of the North's most powerful anti-war figures, Clement Vallandigham, of Ohio, was arrested on May 5, 1863, for his outspoken rejection of the Union's cause.
Speaking against President Lincoln and the war effort, Vallandigham, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives before the war, broke General Order No. 38 — expressing sympathy for the enemy. The rule was put in place by Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Department of the Ohio, to silence the administration's opponents and to bypass civilian courts in Ambrose's area of jurisdiction.
Vallandigham led the group known as the Copperheads, who sought a negotiated peace with the rebellious South. He was tried in a military court, denied due process and sentenced to two years in prison. Lincoln then banished Vallandigham to the Confederacy — he was dumped across rebel lines in Tennessee.
The Allentown Democrat in its edition of June 10, 1863 decried Vallandigham's treatment, calling it unconstitutional. There were rallies in Buffalo, Newark, N.J., New York City and Philadelphia, according to the newspaper, defending Vallandigham's right to free speech.
"The more the people are threatened and bullied, the more audacious they will become. The threat to silence them but opens their mouths," said the Democrat, which supported some of the Coppperheads' views on the issues.
But during the fall 1863 re-election campaign of the Republican Gov. Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania, Copperheads in Lehigh County were doing some threatening and bullying of their own.
One of Curtin's supporters, the Rev. William Helffrich of Fogelsville, drew the ire of the Copperheads, who supported the Democratic candidate gubernatorial candidate, George Woodward.
Helffrich, a Reformed pastor who served near Alburtis in Lehigh County and Longswamp in Berks County and wrote an autobiography, said at election time "it seemed as though the Copperhead organization was going mad."
On Election Day, a group of Copperheads came to his house and shouted: "Don't you hear? 307 majority for Woodward."
Though Woodward won in Helffrich's neck of the woods, Curtin prevailed statewide and his victory was seen as a strong endorsement of the Republican president and his prosecution of the war.
Helffrich, as a Republican and strong supporter of Lincoln, wrote that from that election day on he could not go about town without being insulted, and he bemoaned what the war had done to his community.
"I had to be on guard so as not to be harmed physically and I lay awake many hours in the night because I was afraid that my house would be burned down," he wrote.
"My coal for the winter which I could not store in the cellar, my oats in the barn and my wood in the yard were, for the most part, stolen. May God shield a people from civil war; it eradicates all better emotions and makes Satan's seed grow luxuriantly!"
Click here to read a digital copy of the paper. You can zoom in and navigate on the page.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun