The Copperheads were
The principal dissidents were known as Copperheads, conservative Democrats who harkened back to Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as ideal presidential role models. The two were strict constructionists when it came to the Constitution, and philosophically they could be compared to present-day U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Republicans early in the war labeled the Peace Democrats as “Copperheads,” and by 1862 the term was in widespread use. The copperhead is a poisonous snake, which is what Republicans meant by the word. The Peace Democrats tried to turn the meaning on its head. The penny at the time was also called a copperhead, and Peace Democrats embraced the label because, with an image of Lady Liberty on one side, the copperhead reinforced the Peace Democrats’ insistence that they were resisting the president in defense of the Constitution and civil liberties.
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