Rev. James L. Vallandigham

by Jeff Jordan on March 19, 2021

In October of 1853, James L. Vallandigham accepted a call to the pastorate of WCCPC, becoming its seventh pastor. Vallandigham was born in Ohio and, like his older brother, studied and practiced law in Ohio. But after five years of lawyering, Vallandigham gave up the law and became a pastor like his father. Before pastoring in Newark, Vallandigham pastored in Rehoboth.  Vallandigham was pastor at WCCPC until 1875.  His photo is the first on the wall of Pastors. 

At the beginning of his time in Newark, Vallandigham pastored not just White Clay church, but also the Head of Christiana church, and in May of 1854, he was called to pastor a third church, The Presbyterian Church of Newark.  For six years, Rev. Vallandigham pastored three churches. During this period, half of his time was devoted to White Clay. In 1860, he stepped away from pastoring the Presbyterian Church of Newark.  Vallandigham would pastor White Clay and Head of Christiana churches until May of 1875, when he stepped down from pastoring White Clay.

Pastor Vallandigham’s older brother, Clement, was a Democratic congressman from Ohio during the Civil War. Clement Vallandigham was the leading opponent to Abraham Lincoln’s administration.  He led what was known as the “Copperheads” – Northern politicians who sympathized with the South and opposed the war effort. Clement Vallandigham was such an irritant to the cause of the Union, that the Lincoln administration exiled him to the Confederacy in 1864. After the war, Clement Vallandigham returned to lawyering in Ohio. During a murder trial in 1871, Clement Vallandigham sought to demonstrate how his client, the defendant, was innocent as the deceased had arguably died by an accidental discharge of a handgun.  Unfortunately for the lawyer, he failed to clear the handgun of its ammunition, and during the demonstration Clement Vallandigham accidentally shot himself.  While Vallandigham’s accident was fatal for himself, his client was soon acquitted.  

WCCPC and its people have played prominent roles in church history and the history of the nation. 300 years following Christ in faith, hope, and love.



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