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Every American war has brought conflict over the extent to which national security will permit protesters to exercise their constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. The most famous case was that of Clement L. Vallandigham, the passionate critic of Lincoln’s Civil War policies and one of the most controversial figure in the nation’s history. In the great crisis of his time, he insisted that no circumstance, even war, could deprive a citizen of his right to oppose government policy freely and openly.

The consequence was a furor which shook the nation’s legislative halls and filled the press with vituperation. The ultimate fate for Vallandigham was arrest, imprisonment, and exile. The burning issues raised by his case remain largely unresolved today. Frank L. Klement follows the tragic irony of Vallandigham’s career and reassesses the man and history’s judgment of him. After his death, "Valiant Val’’ became a symbol of the dissenter in wartime whose case continues to have relevance in American democracy.

Frank L. Klement, professor of history at Marquette University, received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of The Copperheads in the Middle West, Wisconsin and the Civil War, and numerous articles dealing mainly with the Civil War in a variety of historical journals.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Clement L. Vallandigham, Valiant Val, Civil War, Freedom of speech


United States History

The Limits of Dissent: Clement L. Vallandigham and the Civil War
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