Thaddeus Stevens


Thaddeus Stevens


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.”

Biographical Note: 

Thaddeus Stevens was a 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 buy him....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.

More Information: 

Read a short biography of Thaddeus Stevens.
Read some of Stevens senate speeches.

Photo Info

Photograph by Mathew Brady. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection. CALL NUMBER: LC-BH83- 613