Where to Learn More

Schott, Thomas Edwin. Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988.

Stephens, Alexander Hamilton. Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens: His Diary Kept When a Prisoner at Fort Warren, Boston Harbour, 1865. New York: Doubleday, 1910. Reprint, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.

Von Abele, Rudolph. Alexander H. Stephens: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1946. Reprint, Westport, CT: Negro Universities Press, 1971.

Thaddeus Stevens

Born April 4, 1792 Danville, Vermont Died August 11, 1868 Washington, D.C.

Union political leader, head of the Radical Republicans in the U.S. Congress

Led the fight to abolish slavery and secure equal rights for black Americans during the Civil War and Reconstruction

Thaddeus Stevens

Born April 4, 1792 Danville, Vermont Died August 11, 1868 Washington, D.C.

Thaddeus Stevens was a highly influential—and also controversial—politician during and immediately after the Civil War. People in the North who opposed slavery hailed him as one of the bravest leaders in American history. No one did more to promote the principles of freedom and equality laid out in the U.S. Constitution. "Every man, no matter what his race or color, has an equal right to justice, honesty, and fair play with every other man; and the law should secure him those rights," Stevens once said. "Such is the law of God and such ought to be the law of man."

But white people in the South hated Stevens. They believed that his radical proposals to free their slaves, take away their land, and put black people in charge of their government would destroy Southern society. Some people in the North also felt that Stevens went too far. They worried that his harsh policies toward the South would prevent the two halves of the country from reconciling their differences after the Civil War. Stevens was a complex man who held strong beliefs and fought for them until the end. "Perhaps if Stevens had been more forgiving, his ideas might have had a better

"Every man, no matter what his race or color, has an equal right to justice, honesty, and fair play with every other man; and the law should secure him those rights."

Thaddeus Stevens. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

chance in his lifetime," Joy Hakim wrote in Reconstruction and Reform. "Or maybe he was just ahead of his time."

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