Friday, February 8, 2013

~Series 2: Thaddeus Stevens,The Old Commoner~

                            Thaddeus Stevens ~"The Old Commoner"

...On the floor of the House of Representatives,Stevens makes reference to a pro- slaver_"(He) is proof that some men are inferior,endowed by their creator with dim wits,impermeable to reason,with cold,pallid slime in their veins".

Ouch!Perhaps, there is no other man hated so much in history_yet did so much good for the freedom of slaves in his life time.....than Thaddeus Stevens! NYTimes called him,"the evil "Genius of the Republican party", when the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania(1863) they dispatched cavalry to burn down his iron foundry,the President suggested he should be hanged,and after he died(1868),his party decided to honor him by nominating him for reelection to Congress_he won by a landslide!!!

Tommy Lee Jones tries his hand at bringing Stevens spirit back to life in Steven Spielberg's hit movie "Lincoln".

Jones plays Stevens as a snide,cynical,misanthropic old politician with a bad wig and a black mistress!

Stevens was known for his sharp wit_and used it at every opportunity.When an opponent interrupted one of his House speeches with a request to speak,Stevens replied,"I yield to the gentleman for a few feeble remarks."

Yet another_when ripping a pro-slaver,Stevens,replied,"There are some reptiles so flat that the common foot of man cannot crush them". The movie only hints at the bone-deep idealism and anger that the Old Commoner spewed at a moments notice.

Seems he loved to tell jokes as well...."The Wit and Wisdom of Thaddeus Stevens"_

Thaddeus Stevens fought harder to win freedom and equality for Black Americans than any politician in our history including Abraham Lincoln_many of his battles occurred after Lincoln's death.

Thaddeus was born with one leg crippled by a clubfoot in Vermont 1792, his father was a drunkard & deserted the family,supported by his mother working as a maid, she saved just enough for Thaddeus to attend Dartmouth. While at Dartmouth it is said he began to exhibit a lifelong scorn for those lucky souls born healthy and wealthy.He graduated 1814,moved to Pennsylvania to teach school and study Law.He became a very successful attorney. But in 1821 hired by a Maryland Slave owner to regain his runaway slave,being successful at winning the case_pondered how his courtroom cleverness caused the woman and her children to lose their freedom_he was appalled at himself_becoming a dedicated Abolitionist for the rest of his life.Elected in 1833 to the Pennsylvania legislation_he refused to sign the new state constitution because blacks couldn't vote and fought for education for all. He served in the US  Office of Rep.from 1849-1853 & 1859-1868 (his death). He fought hard in Congress to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution_


"The greatest measure of the 19th century was passed by corruption,aided and abetted by the purest man in America."_(Lincoln,Stevens,Wm.Seward & other shady political operatives). 

He differed from Lincoln's insistence during the Civil War that the war was about restoring the Union_not a war to end slavery!Rather Stevens,urged Lincoln to turn the war into a "radical revolution" that would end Slavery.Stevens primary political and personal focus was on Freedom for all.Under his office in Lancaster,Pa was a link to the Underground Railroad. He was also known as the politician responsible for the proposal and impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.

Shop here:
and American History Magazine_April 2013 Vol.48.No1_"Lincoln's Feisty Foil"

Part II
His Companion:

And,by his side until his death was Lydia Hamilton Smith an attractive,intelligent "mulatto"(mother free Black;father Irish) woman who managed his visitors and household ,comporting herself as if she enjoyed the rights of a lawful wife.When Stevens died, Smith was at his bedside, along with his nephews Simon and Thaddeus Stevens Jr., two African American nuns, and several other individuals.Under Stevens will, Smith was allowed to choose between a lump sum of $5,000 or a $500 annual allowance; she was also allowed to take any furniture in his house.With the inheritance, she purchased Stevens's house, where she had lived for many years, and the adjoining lot. Smith became a successful business woman of the times.

Thaddeus Stevens chose to be buried in the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery, because it was the only cemetery that would accept people without regard to race. Stevens wrote the inscription on his headstone that reads:

"I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator."

                      ~Who Knew?
    Is Stevens the real "Great Emancipator"?

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