Thaddeus Stevens

American politician (1792-1868)

Thaddeus Stevens (April 4, 1792 – August 11, 1868) was an American Republican leader. He was one of the most powerful members of the United States House of Representatives from 1849 until his death in 1868.

Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens - Brady-Handy-crop.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1859 – August 11, 1868
Preceded byAnthony Roberts
Succeeded byOliver Dickey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1849 – March 4, 1853
Preceded byJohn Strohm
Succeeded byHenry A. Muhlenberg
Personal details
Born(1792-04-04)April 4, 1792
Danville, Vermont, U.S.
DiedAugust 11, 1868(1868-08-11) (aged 76)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyFederalist, Anti-Masonic, Whig, Republican

He was chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Stevens was a witty, sarcastic speaker and confident party leader. He dominated the House from 1861 until his death. Stevens helped create the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.[1] He also helped with the act that helped the Reconstruction of the United States.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Stevens was born in Danville, Vermont on April 4, 1792.[2] He went to Dartmouth College and the University of Vermont. Stevens was never married and had no children. He was in a relationship with his black housekeeper even when slavery was legal. He wore a wig because he was bald.

Political careerEdit

He wrote much of the financial legislation that paid for the American Civil War. Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner were the prime leaders of the Radical Republicans during the war and Reconstruction era. He worked and supported Abraham Lincoln's plan to end slavery and the U.S. reconstruction plan. He was part of Andrew Johnson's impeachment.


Stevens died on August 11, 1868 in Washington, D.C. from a stomach infection, aged 76. He was buried in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Personal lifeEdit

Stevens never married. However, there were rumors about his 20-year relationship (1848–1868) with his widowed housekeeper, Lydia Hamilton Smith (1813–1884).[3][4] She was a light-skinned African-American; her husband Jacob and at least one of her sons were much darker than she was.[5]


He was played by actor Tommy Lee Jones in Steven Spielberg's 2012 biography movie Lincoln.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Thaddeus Stevens
  2. Congressional Biography
  3. "Who was Lydia Hamilton Smith?". February 6, 2010. Archived from the original on February 6, 2010. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  4. Woodley, Thomas Frederick (1969) [1937]. The Great Leveler: Thaddeus Stevens. New York: Stackpole Sons. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-8369-5104-2.
  5. Brodie, pp. 86–87

Other websitesEdit

  Media related to Thaddeus Stevens at Wikimedia Commons