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The Copperheads were Northern Democrats who opposed the Civil War and wanted a peace settlement with the Confederates.

Republicans started calling them Copperheads, likening them to the poisonous snake.

Interestingly, they accepted the label but because the copperhead to them was the likeness of Liberty, which they cut from copper pennies and proudly wore as badges.

The Copperheads were primarily located in the Midwest, in states such as Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

They were often rural, working-class individuals who were adversely affected by the war.

Many were farmers, laborers, and small business owners who felt the economic strain of the war and were concerned about the potential competition for jobs from freed slaves if the Union were to win the war.

Politically, the Copperheads were staunchly opposed to President Abraham Lincoln and his war policies.

They were particularly critical of his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves in Confederate-held territory to be free.

They saw this as a violation of states’ rights and believed it would only prolong the war.

Their influence peaked in the mid-term elections of 1862 when they made significant gains in the House of Representatives.

However, their power began to wane after the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863, which turned the tide of the war in favor of the North.

By the end of the war, the Copperheads were largely discredited and had lost much of their political influence.

Perhaps the most famous Copperhead was Ohio’s Clement L. Vallandigham. Many counties in Ohio and Indiana continued to exist as a kind of solid south in exile for years along the Ohio River.

Use of “Copperheads” in a sentence

  • During the Civil War, the Copperheads were a vocal group of Northern Democrats who fervently advocated for a peaceful resolution with the Confederacy, despite the prevailing sentiment for war.
  • The influence of the Copperheads, while significant during the mid-term elections of 1862, began to wane following key Union victories, demonstrating the shifting political landscape of the Civil War era.
  • Despite their controversial stance, the Copperheads represented a significant portion of the Northern population, reflecting the deep-seated divisions and complexities that characterized the Civil War period.