About Daniel Wolsey Voorhees
Daniel Wolsey Voorhees (September 26, 1827 – April 10, 1897) was a lawyer and United States Senator from Indiana, who was leader of the Democratic party and an anti-war Copperhead during the American Civil War.
He was born in Liberty Township, Butler County, Ohio, of Dutch and Irish descent. He was the son of Stephen Pieter Voorhees and Rachel Elliott. During his infancy his parents removed to Fountain County, Indiana, near Veedersburg. He graduated at Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University), Greencastle, Indiana, in 1849; was admitted to the bar in 1850, and began to practice in Covington, Indiana, whence in 1857 he removed to Terre Haute.
In 1858-61 he was U.S. district-attorney for Indiana; in 1861-66 and in 1869-73 he was a Democratic representative in Congress; and in 1877-97 he was a member of the U.S. Senate. During the American Civil War he was an anti-war Copperhead and perhaps was affiliated with the Knights of the Golden Circle, but he was not so radical as Clement Vallandigham and others.
Historian Kenneth Stampp has captured the Copperhead spirit in his depiction of 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. 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 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]
Voorhees was a member of the powerful Finance Committee throughout his service in the Senate, and his first speech in that body was a defence of the free coinage of silver and a plea for the preservation of the full legal tender value of greenback currency, though in 1893 he voted to repeal the silver purchase clause of the Sherman Act. He had an active part in bringing about the building of the new Congressional Library. He was widely known as an effective advocate, especially in jury trials. In allusion to his unusual stature he was called "the Tall Sycamore of the Wabash." He died in Washington, D.C., in April 1897 at the age of 69.