lawyer, abolitionist, ironmaster, defender of free public schools, United States Congressman (1849-1853), and United States Congressman (1859-1868)
Died aged c. 76
Thaddeus Stevens (April 4, 1792 – August 11, 1868) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania and one of the leaders of the Radical Republican faction of the Republican Party during the 1860s. A fierce opponent of slavery and discrimination against African-Americans, Stevens sought to secure their rights during Reconstruction, in opposition to President Andrew Johnson. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee during the American Civil War, he played a major part in the war's financing. Stevens was born in rural Vermont, in poverty, and with a club foot, giving him a limp he kept his entire life. He moved to Pennsylvania as a young man, and quickly became a successful lawyer in Gettysburg. He interested himself in municipal affairs, and then in politics. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where he became a strong advocate of free public education. Financial setbacks in 1842 caused him to move his home and practice to the larger city of Lancaster. There, he joined the Whig Party, and was elected to Congress in 1848. His activities as a lawyer and politician in opposition to slavery cost him votes and he did not seek reelection in 1852. After a brief flirtation with the Know-Nothing Party, Stevens joined the newly formed Republican Party, and was elected to Congress again in 1858. There, with fellow radicals such as Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, he opposed the expansion of slavery and concessions to the South as war came. Stevens argued that slavery should not survive the war; he was frustrated by the slowness of President Abraham Lincoln to support his position. He guided the government's financial legislation through the House as Ways and Means chairman. As the war progressed towards a northern victory, Stevens came to believe that not only should slavery be abolished, but that African-Americans should be given a stake in the South's future through the confiscation of land from planters to be distributed to the freedmen. His plans went too far for the Moderate Republicans, and were not enacted. After Lincoln's assassination in April 1865, Stevens came into conflict with the new president, Johnson, who sought rapid restoration of the seceded states without guarantees for freedmen. The difference in views caused an ongoing battle between Johnson and Congress, with Stevens leading the Radical Republicans. After gains in the 1866 election the radicals took control of Reconstruction away from Johnson. Stevens's last great battle was to secure articles of impeachment in the House against Johnson, though the Senate did not convict the President. Historiographical views of Stevens have dramatically shifted over the years, from the early 20th-century view of Stevens as reckless and motivated by hatred of the white South, to the perspective of the neoabolitionists of the 1950s and afterwards, who applauded him for his egalitarian views.DbPedia
Commemorated on 3 plaques
Tapeworm Railroad. Begun in 1836 by the State of Pennsylvania, largely through the efforts of Thaddeus Stevens. The meandering railroad''s nickname was provided by its opponents. It was put up for sale in 1842. Just west of here stands its granite stone viaduct.
Fairfield Rd. (PA 116) & Iron Springs Rd. (SR 3014), Fairfield, PA, United States where they established
Thaddeus Stevens. Lawyer, congressman, abolitionist, ironmaster, and defender of free public schools in Pennsylvania, lived in a house that stood on this site. He moved from here in 1842.
51 Chambersburg St., Gettysburg, PA, United States where they lived -1842)
Thaddeus Stevens. Lawyer, congressman, defender of free public schools, abolitionist, lies buried in the rear of this cemetery. He believed in the "Equality of man before his Creator." Resided in Lancaster from 1842 until his death, 1868.
W. Chestnut St. at Shreiner's Cemetery, at Chestnut & N Mulberry St., Lancaster, PA, United States where they lived (1842-1868)