June 17th 1871: Vallandigham accidentally shoots himself
On this day in 1871, American politician and lawyer Clement Vallandigham accidentally shot himself while arguing a case, and died a few hours later. Vallandigham was a staunch Democrat, and a supporter of states’ rights, low tariffs, and slavery. He ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives a number of times before finally being elected to represent Ohio in 1858. In the early years of the American Civil War, Vallandigham drew the ire of his Republican colleagues for his opposition to the war and the Lincoln administration, and his dire prophecies of Union failure. For his outspoken anti-war stance, Vallandigham was labelled a ‘Copperhead’ - a Northern Democrat who appeared to ally with the Confederacy. Indeed, Vallandigham lost his seat in 1862, and was arrested the following year for expressing treasonous sympathy for the rebelling Southern states, which led to his exile to the Confederacy. However, he soon secretly fled to Canada, where he remained until 1864. After the war, Vallandigham attempted to run for political office on a platform opposing the Republican plan of Reconstruction. When this effort failed, he returned to practicing law. In June 1871, he was atttempting to prove a client innocent of murder, arguing that the victim had accidentally shot himself while withdrawing his pistol. Vallandigham sought to demonstrate how this was possible, but failed to notice that the gun he was using was loaded. He fatally shot himself by accident, thus proving his theory to be correct; the argument was successful, and the defendant was acquitted.
Sometimes when we have foreign visitors they’re only visiting the coasts. They go to New York, they go to Washington, they go to Los Angeles,” Obama told Kellogg. “But the heartland is what it’s all about.