US Con Stevens, Thaddeus - U.S. Congressman, PA

Thaddeus Stevens

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Born: April 4, 1792

Birthplace: Danville, Vermont

Father: Joshua Stevens 1769 – 1814

Mother: Sarah “Sally” Morrill 1766 – 1854

Domestic Partner: Lydia Hamilton Smith 1813 – 1884
(Buried: Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania)​

Children in his custody:

Nephew: Captain Alanson Joshua Stevens 1833 – 1863​
Nephew: Lt. Colonel Thaddeus Stevens Jr. 1835 – 1874​
(Buried: Shreiner’s Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania)​

Political Party:

Before – 1828: Member of Federalist Political Party
1828 – 1838: Member of Anti – Masonic Political Party
1838 – 1853: Member of Whig Political Party
1854 – 1855: Member of Know – Nothing Political Party
1855 – 1868: Member of Republican Political Party


Attended Peacham Academy​
Attended University of Vermont at Burlington​
1814: Graduated from Dartmouth College

Occupation before War:

1815: School Teacher at York Academy in York, Pennsylvania​
1816 – 1842: Attorney in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania​
1822 – 1831: Member of Gettysburg borough Council​
1825: The largest landowner in the community of Gettysburg.​
1833 – 1835: Pennsylvania State Representative​
1837: Pennsylvania State Representative​
1837: Fought against discrimination in Pennsylvania.​
1838: Delegate to Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention​
1838: Appointed Pennsylvania State Canal Commissioner​
1840: Campaigner for William Henry Harrison Presidential Campaign.​
1841: Pennsylvania State Representative​
1842 – 1849: Attorney in Lancaster, Pennsylvania​
1844: Supporter of Henry Clay’s Presidential Campaign.
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1848: Supporter of Zachary Taylor’s Presidential Campaign.​
1849 – 1853: United States Congressman from Pennsylvania​
1849 – 1851: Member of House Judiciary Committee​
1850: Spoke out against the Compromise of 1850.​
1851 – 1853: Member of House Military Affairs Committee​
1851: Defense Attorney in the trial of 38 African Americans.​
1853 – 1859: Attorney in Lancaster Pennsylvania​
1856: Speaker and Delegate Republican Party National Convention​
1856: Supporter of Associate Justice John McLean for Republican Nomination.​
1859: Opposed John Brown’s actions at the time but later approved.​
1859 – 1868: United States Congressman from Pennsylvania​
U.S. Congressman William Barksdale drew a knife on Stevens.
1859 – 1861: Member of House Ways and Means Committee​
1860: Pennsylvania Delegate Republican Party National Convention​
1860: Supporter of Justice John McLean for Republican Nomination.​
1860: Campaigner for Abraham Lincoln in Pennsylvania.​

Civil War Career:

1861: Secured Passage of an act to confiscate property.​
1861 – 1865: Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee​
1861: Introduced legislation to emancipate all slaves but it was defeated.​
1861: Helped secure emancipation in D.C. and the territories.​
1862: Helped pass the Legal Tender Act of 1862​
1863 – 1867: Chairman of House Pacific Railroad Committee​
1863: Confederates twice sent parties destroying Caledonia Forge.​
1864: Pushed Lincoln to sign the Wade – Davis Bill.​
1864: Delegate to National Union Party National Convention but preferred Hannibal Hamlin for President over Lincoln.​
1865 – 1867: Chairman of House Appropriations Committee​
1865: Leader in the passage of the 13th​ Amendment to Constitution.​
1865: Helped establish the Bureau of Refugees​

Occupation after War:

1865: Leader in passing the 14th​ Amendment to the Constitution.​
1866: Criticized the passage of the Southern Homestead Act of 1866.​
1867: Introduced legislation to divide the south into five districts each commanded by an army General to override civil authorities.​
1867: Introduced the Tenure of Office Act of 1867.​
Helped pass a bill to enfranchise African – Americans in the District of Columbia.​
1868: Leader of the House leaders in the impeachment of Johnson.​
1868: One of the leading Managers in Andrew Johnson Impeachment.​
1868: Unsuccessful in impeaching President Andrew Johnson.​
1868: He planned to visit the issue of impeachment when Congress met again.​
1868: At his bedside when he died was Lydia Hamilton Smith, his friend Simon Stevens, nephew Thaddeus Stevens Jr., two African – American nuns, and several other individuals.​
1868: President Johnson issued no statement on Stevens death.​
1868: Congress gave several tributes and Speeches for Stevens.​

Died: August 11, 1868

Place of Death: Washington, D.C.

Cause of Death: Dropsy and Stomach ailments

Age at time of Death: 76 years old

Laid in State at the United States Capitol: August 13 – 14 1868

Burial Place: Shreiner’s Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Cenotaph Place: Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.


“Every humane and patriotic heart must grieve to see a bloody and causeless rebellion, costing thousands of human lives and millions of treasure. But as it was predetermined and inevitable, it was long enough delayed. Now is the appropriate time to solve the greatest problem ever submitted to civilized man.”​
“It is said the South will never submit — that we cannot conquer the rebels — that they will suffer themselves to be slaughtered, and their whole country to be laid waste. Sir, war is a grievous thing at best, and civil war more than any other; but if they hold this language, and the means which they have suggested must be resorted to; if their whole country must be laid waste and made a desert, in order to save this Union from destruction, so let it be. I would rather, Sir, reduce them to a condition where their whole country is to be re-peopled by a band of freemen, than to see them perpetrate the destruction of this people through our agency. I do not say it is time to resort to such means, and I do not say that the time will come, but I never fear to express my sentiments. It is not a question with me of policy, but a question of principle.”​
"My sands are nearly run, and I can only see with the eye of faith. I am fast descending the downhill of life, at the foot of which stands an open grave. But you, sir, are promised length of days and a brilliant career. If you and your compeers can fling away ambition and realize that every human being, however lowly-born or degraded, by fortune is your equal, that every inalienable right which belongs to you belongs also to him, truth and righteousness will spread over the land, and you will look down from the top of the Rocky mountains upon an empire of one hundred millions of happy people."​
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Mar 19, 2017
New England
On a thread here about Civil War fiction, it was pointed out that novels and movies have given many of us a little window on history and historical people. As @Grant's Tomb above pointed out, Tommy Lee Jones did a great job portraying Thaddeus Stevens in the movie "Lincoln" and made me want to learn more about him. I appreciate the first post above with all the info.

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
"Gentlemen on this floor (the House) and in the Senate, had repeatedly, during this discussion, asserted that slavery was a moral, political, and personal blessing; that the slave was free from care, contented, happy, fat, and sleek. Comparisons have been instituted between slaves and laboring freemen, much to the advantage of the condition of slavery. Instances are cited where the slave, having tried freedom, had voluntarily returned to resume his yoke. Well, if this be so, let us give all a chance to enjoy this blessing. Let the slaves, who choose, go free; and the free, who choose, become slaves. If these gentlemen believe there is a word of truth in what they preach, the slaveholder need be under no apprehension that he will ever lack bondsmen. Their slaves would remain, and many freemen would seek admission into this happy condition. Let them be active in propagating their principles. We will not complain if they establish Societies in the South for that purpose -- abolition societies to abolish freedom. Nor will we rob the mails to search for incendiary publications in favor of slavery, even if they contain seductive pictures, and cuts of those implements of happiness -- handcuffs, iron yokes and cat-o'-nine tails."

“There can be no fanatics in the cause of genuine liberty. ... There may, and every hour shows around me, be fanatics in the cause of false liberty – that infamous liberty which justifies human bondage, that liberty whose ‘corner-stone is slavery.’ But there can be no fanaticism however high the enthusiasm, in the cause of rational, universal liberty – the liberty of the Declaration of Independence.”
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