A visitor who called on Stevens during his last illness remarked on the patient's appearance. "It's not my appearance that troubles me right now," Stevens replied. "It's my disappearance."
U.S. politician and lawyer, congressman from Pennsylvania (1849-53, 1859-68). Thaddeus Stevens was a wealthy
Pennsylvania lawyer when he entered the
House of Representatives as a Whig in 1848.
Early in 1850, his first speech against slavery
immediately drew the admiration of his
adversaries. "Our enemy . . . has a general
now. This man is rich, therefore we cannot
. . . We cannot seduce him. . . We cannot
allure him. . . He is in earnest. He means what
he says. He is bold. He cannot be flattered or
frightened." Growing impatient with the Whig
Party's moderate positions, Stevens lost his
congressional seat in 1853 and returned to
Congress in 1859 as a Republican. Under
Lincoln, Stevens served as chairman of the
House Ways and Means Committee. After the
war, he led the Radical Republicans, opposing
both Lincoln and then Andrew Johnson,
endorsing military occupation of the South. He
also insisted on rigid enforcement of new
rights for African Americans, guiding the
passage of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth
Amendments. When Johnson opposed the
Fourteenth Amendment, Stevens led the call
for his impeachment.
READ a short biography of Thaddeus Stevens. READ some of Stevens senate speeches.
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