Judge Van Rensselaer Humphrey (1800-1864), a renowned lawyer, state legislator and Ohio judge, built this home in 1833. Humphrey was a longtime member of the American Colonization Society, and while anti-slavery, he was an advocate of states' rights, once declaring "that slavery should be hedged into the states where it now exists and that it should not be one inch beyond;"
After Lincoln suspended the U.S. Constitution in 1863 (writ of habeas corpus), Humphrey converted from being a strong supporter of the Union to a "Peace Democrat." Peace Democrats (also called Copperheads or Butternuts) advocated for a peaceful settlement with the South in order to end the Civil War. On July 10, 1863, Humphrey spoke at a Copperhead convention in Millersburg, Ohio, proclaiming that "we had lost half a million of men and the war was not ended yet nor likely to be...” as he denounced the Union generals of Halleck, Meade, Sherman, and Hanks and the loss of life and money wasted on the war between the North and the South. Humphrey's position was not a popular one in Hudson. Hudson resident Dr. George P. Ashmun (1818-1873), who served in the 93rd OVI (Ohio Volunteer Infantry), once refused to shake hands with him because he was "a Butternut." The negative view of Copperheads was so high in Hudson that in 1863 a list of local Copperhead voters, including a list of "names of those who refused to vote," was published and distributed.
"...I beg leave to state that in the formation of the of the Republican party, made up as it is from Whigs, Free Soilers, and Free Democrats, there is really no difference between us upon the slavery question; that we all see eye to eye; that we that came from one of these old parties is no more reliable than another who came from a different party, and that he who would vote wrong wear [sic] that question is involved, is either a knave or a fool."
Judge Van Rensselaer Humphrey's 1858 Republican circular announcing his legislative candidacy, from the Hudson Heritage Association house report