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Celebrating Thaddeus Stevens – April 4, 1792 to August 11, 1868

An 1898 Stevens print.                                                                                                                                                                                                           2015-10-23 15.58.35

                                                                                                                                    “The Old Commoner”

U.S. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens was a pivotal figure in the public affairs of Pennsylvania and the nation from the 1820s until his death in Washington D.C. at age 76. He defended the rights of enslaved African Americans as a young lawyer in Adams County, PA. He championed free public education as a state representative from Gettysburg in the early 1830s. During two periods of service in the U.S. Congress spanning seven terms, Stevens represented Lancaster County as a member of the Whig Party (1849–53) and as a Republican (1859–1868). An avowed Abolitionist and Constitutional scholar, Stevens was also an Underground Railroad activist during his residency (1842–1868) at his Lancaster home and office.

As a leader in the House of Representatives, he played key roles in the major civil rights amendments to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery (13th), and defining citizenship and equal protection under the law (14th). He also laid the groundwork for the 15th Amendment, enacted after his death, supporting voting rights for people of color and former slaves. The “Old Commoner” was one of the prime movers of Reconstruction and the leading advocate for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, whom Stevens believed was too lenient toward the rebellious South.

 

To learn more about Lydia Hamilton Smith, Thaddeus Stevens, and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom please visit:   https://www.lancasterhistory.org/places/stevens-smith/