1863 Copperheads = 2010 Tea Party?

I recently re-watched Ken Burns’ The Civil War (thanks to NetFlix). I was stunned when the story turned to the Copperheads and Sons of Liberty. The language and beliefs of the 1863 Copperheads/Sons of Liberty is almost identical to the Tea Bag Party of 2010! If you take the time to dig in, you will be floored.


“The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States (see also Union (American Civil War)) who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. Republicans started calling anti-war Democrats “Copperheads”, likening them to the poisonous snake. The Peace Democrats accepted the label, but for them the copper “head” was the likeness of Liberty, which they cut from copper pennies and proudly wore as badges. [1]

They were also called “Peace Democrats” (although the 13th Edition of The American Pageant makes a distinction between the two, as those termed Copperheads were at the extreme end of the Peace Democrats) and “Butternuts” (for the color of the Confederate uniforms). Perhaps the most famous Copperhead was Ohio’s Clement L. Vallandigham.”

Even better…

“Historian Kenneth Stampp has captured the Copperhead spirit in his depiction of Congressman Daniel W. Voorhees of Indiana:

“There was an earthy quality in Voorhees, “the tall sycamore of the Wabash.” On the stump his hot temper, passionate partisanship, and stirring eloquence made an irresistible appeal to the western Democracy [i.e., the Democratic Party]. His bitter cries against protective tariffs and national banks, his intense race prejudice, his suspicion of the eastern Yankee, his devotion to personal liberty, his defense of the Constitution and State’s rights faithfully reflected the views of his constituents. Like other Jacksonian agrarians, he resented the political and economic revolution then in progress. Voorhees idealized a way of life which he thought was being destroyed by the current rulers of his country. His bold protests against these dangerous trends made him the idol of the Democracy of the Wabash Valley.” [Stampp, p. 211]


One thought on “1863 Copperheads = 2010 Tea Party?

  1. Interesting. This is a common thread in our history. It may take another crucible to resolve this political grid-motherfucking-lock.

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