Thaddeus Stevens (1792 to 1868), a Pennsylvania native, rose from modest beginnings to become a lawyer and a prominent advocate for abolitionism and racial equality. As a member of the United States House of Representatives during the mid-19th century, he championed the cause of ending slavery, working tirelessly to pass legislation that would forever alter the course of our nation.
Stevens was a driving force behind the passage of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States and promised equal protection under the law. He believed this amendment was essential to ensuring a just and fair society where the scars of slavery would begin to heal.
But Stevens was not without controversy. His unrelenting stance on equality often put him at odds with his fellow lawmakers, making him a lightning rod for criticism. His advocacy for land redistribution to formerly enslaved people, though ahead of its time, was met with resistance.
During Stevens’s career in government, he :
- Joined the Radical Republicans, who stood in opposition to the extension of slavery into the West
- Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee
- Chairman of the Appropriation Committee
- In 1865 when congress met. He was instrumental in excluding traditional senators and representatives from the South
- Introduced resolution for the impeachment of then President Andrew Johnson.
- Insisted that lands held by plantation owners be distributed to the once enslaved population.
Stevens will be remembered for his fierce advocacy for civil rights and the rights of formerly enslaved individuals. His commitment to equality was unwavering, and he fought to ensure African Americans were granted the same rights and opportunities as their white counterparts. Stevens’s legacy is a symbol of steadfast dedication to justice and equality.