Thaddeus stevens biography and relationship with black housekeeper

Blog Divided » Post Topic » How the “Lincoln” Movie Reconstructed Thaddeus Stevens

This survey will consider the major biographical sources on Stevens: Samuel . Stevens and his career was his relationship with his black housekeeper Lydia. depiction of the key, true-life African American historical characters, most notably Stevens's relationship with his “mulatto” housekeeper is the subject. How Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (and The Nation's s editors) And by depicting Stevens's open-secret relationship with Lydia Hamilton Smith, his black housekeeper—friends referred to her, without derision, as “Mrs. Stevens”—the transactions of life,” and criticize his policy proposals—such as “mild.

A campaign, dirty even by the standards of the times, followed. The result was a Democrat elected as governor, Whig control of the state Senate, and the state House in dispute, with a number of seats from Philadelphia in question, though Stevens won his seat in Adams County. Stevens sought to have those Philadelphia Democrats excluded, which would create a Whig majority that could elect a Speaker and himself as senator. Amid rioting in Harrisburg—later known as the " Buckshot War "—Stevens's ploy backfired, with the Democrats taking control of the House.

Stevens remained in the legislature most years throughbut the episode cost him much of his political influence, as the Whigs blamed him for the debacle and were increasingly unwilling to give leadership to someone who had not yet joined their party. Nevertheless, he supported the pro-business and pro-development Whig stances.

Though Stevens later alleged that Harrison had promised him a Cabinet position if elected, he received none, and any influence ended when Harrison died after a month in office, to be succeeded by John Tylera southerner hostile to Stevens's stances on slavery. Refusing to take advantage of the bankruptcy laws, he felt he needed to move to a larger municipality in order to gain the money to pay his obligations.

InStevens moved his home and practice to the city of Lancaster.

Thaddeus Stevens and Alexander Coffroth conversation (Lincoln film 2012)

He knew Lancaster County was an Anti-Mason and Whig stronghold, which ensured that he retained a political base. It was in Lancaster that he engaged the services of Lydia Hamilton Smitha housekeeper, whose racial makeup was described as mulattoand who remained with him the rest of his life. The abolitionist movement was young and only recently had figures such as William Lloyd Garrison taken on the fight.

Richard Current insuggested it was out of ambition; Fawn Brodiein her controversial psychobiography of Stevens, suggested it was out of identification with the downtrodden, based on his handicap. Nevertheless, he would not seek to disturb it in the states where it existed as the Constitution protected their internal affairs from outside interference.

Henry Clay in [42] and Zachary Taylor in There was opposition to him at the Whig convention. Some delegates felt that because Stevens had been late to join the party, he should not receive the nomination; others disliked his stance on slavery. He narrowly won the nomination. In a strong year for Whigs nationally, Taylor was chosen as president and Stevens was elected to Congress.

Least of all would I reproach the South. I honor her courage and fidelity. Even in a bad, a wicked cause, she shows a united front. All her sons are faithful to the cause of human bondage, because it is their cause.

But the North—the poor, timid, mercenary, driveling North—has no such united defenders of her cause, although it is the cause of human liberty She is offered up a sacrifice to propitiate southern tyranny—to conciliate southern treason.

Stevens spoke out against the Compromise ofcrafted by Kentucky Senator Henry Claythat gave victories to both North and South, but would allow for some of the territories recently gained from Mexico to become slave states. The defendants had been implicated in the so-called Christiana Riotin which an attempt to enforce a Fugitive Slave Act warrant had resulted in the killing of the slaveowner. Justice Robert Grier of the U.

Supreme Court, as circuit justicetried the case, and instructed the jury to acquit on the grounds that though the defendants might be guilty of murder or riot, they were not charged with that, and were not guilty of treason. The well-publicized incident and others like it increased polarization over the issue of slavery and made Stevens a prominent face of Northern abolitionism. He left the Whig caucus in Decemberwhen his colleagues would not join him in seeking the repeal of the offensive elements of the Compromise, though he supported its unsuccessful candidate for president, General Winfield Scott.

Lydia Hamilton Smith | Civil War Women

His political opposition, and local dislike of his stance on slavery and participation in the treason trial, made him unlikely to win renomination, and he sought only to pick his successor. His choice was defeated for the Whig nomination.

He stayed active in politics, and into gain more votes for the anti-slavery movement, he joined the nativist Know Nothing Party. The members were pledged not to speak of party deliberations thus, they knew nothingand Stevens was attacked for his membership in a group with similar rules of secrecy as the Masons. InStevens joined the new Republican Party. Other former Whigs who were anti-slavery joined as well, including William H. Seward of New York, Charles E.

Sumner of Massachusetts, and Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. The convention, however, nominated John C. Nonetheless, Pennsylvania helped elect Buchanan. As the Republican nominee, he was easily elected. Democratic papers were appalled. One banner headline read, "Niggerism Triumphant". Stevens opposed Brown's violent actions at the time, though later, he was more approving. Sectional tensions spilled over into the House, which proved unable to elect a Speaker for eight weeks.

Stevens was active in the bitter flow of invective from both sides; at one point, Mississippi Congressman William Barksdale drew a knife on him, though no blood was spilled. North" Stevens proposing to cut the South's legs off by means of constitutional amendment. Stevens actually opposed such measures. With the Democrats unable to agree on a single presidential candidate, the Republican National Convention in Chicago became crucial, as the nominee would be in a favorable position to become president.

Thaddeus Stevens - Wikipedia

Prominent figures in the party such as Seward and Lincoln sought the nomination. Stevens continued to support the year-old Justice McLean. Beginning on the second ballot, most Pennsylvania delegates supported Lincoln, helping to win the Illinoisan the nomination. As the Democrats put up no candidate in his district, Stevens was assured of reelection to the House and campaigned for Lincoln in Pennsylvania.

Lincoln won a majority in the Electoral College. The President-elect's known opposition to the expansion of slavery caused immediate talk of secession in the southern states, a threat that Stevens had downplayed during the campaign.

Stevens was unyielding in opposing efforts to appease the southerners, such as the Crittenden Compromisewhich would have enshrined slavery as beyond constitutional amendment. Many, even in the abolition movement, were content to let it be so and to let the South go its own way. Stevens did not agree, and the congressman was "undoubtedly pleased" by Lincoln's statement in his first inaugural address on March 4,that he would "hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the Government".

He also believed that the Confederacy had placed itself beyond the protection of the U. Constitution by making war, and in a reconstituted United States, slavery would have no place. Speaker Galusha Growwhose views placed him with Stevens among the members becoming known as the Radical Republicans for their position on slavery, as opposed to the Conservative or Moderate Republicansappointed him as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

This position gave him power over the House's agenda. In NovemberStevens introduced a resolution to emancipate all slaves; it was defeated. By Marchto Stevens's exasperation, the most Lincoln had publicly supported was gradual emancipation in the Border stateswith the masters compensated by the federal government. Wherever I go and whatever way I turn, they are on my tail, and still in my heart, I have the deep conviction that the hour [to issue one] has not yet come.

Stevens quickly adopted the Emancipation Proclamation for use in his successful re-election campaign. They will find that they must treat those States now outside of the Union as conquered provinces and settle them with new men, and drive the present rebels as exiles from this country They have such determination, energy, and endurance, that nothing but actual extermination or exile or starvation will ever induce them to surrender to this Government.

House of Representatives, January 8, [74] During the Confederate incursion into the North in mid that culminated in the Battle of GettysburgConfederates twice sent parties to Stevens's Caledonia Forge.

Stevens, who had been there supervising operations, was hastened away by his workers against his will. Early said that the North had done the same to southern figures, and that Stevens was well known for his vindictiveness towards the South. The Emancipation Proclamation was a wartime measure, did not apply to all slaves, and might be reversed by peacetime courts; an amendment would be slavery's end. Illinois Representative Isaac Arnold wrote: Allegations of bribery were made by Democrats; [81] [82] Stevens stated "the greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.

Stevens continued to push for a broad interpretation of it that included economic justice in addition to the formal end of slavery. Urged on by Stevens, [51] it voted to authorize the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Landswith a mandate though no funding to set up schools and to distribute "not more than forty acres" [16 ha] of confiscated Confederate land to each family of freed slaves. Within a day of his appointment as Ways and Means chairman, he had reported a bill for a war loan.

Legislation to pay the soldiers Lincoln had already called into service and to allow the administration to borrow to prosecute the war quickly followed. These acts and more were pushed through the House by Stevens. To defeat the delaying tactics of Copperhead opponents, he had the House set debate limits as short as half a minute. Early makeshifts to finance the war, such as war bonds, had failed as it became clear the war would not be short.

The system endured for a half-century until supplanted by the Federal Reserve System in Chaseproposed what became known as the Gold Bill—to abolish the gold market by forbidding its sale by brokers or for future delivery. It passed Congress in June; the chaos caused by the lack of an organized gold market caused the value of paper to drop even faster. Under heavy pressure from the business community, Congress repealed the bill on July 1, twelve days after its passage.

Lydia Hamilton Smith

It did not pass. Lincoln, on the contrary, said that only individuals, not states, had rebelled. Lincoln, who advocated his more lenient ten percent planpocket vetoed it. InLydia moved her two boys to Lancaster to work for Stevens.

She learned quickly how to manage a household with staff, as well as how to manage the household finances. Lydia served as Stevens' housekeeper, property manager and confidante for twenty years. Their partnership afforded her the opportunity to gain the skills and social contacts that helped her later become a successful businesswoman.

Stevens lived in the main house with his two orphaned nephews, Alanson and Thaddeus, whom they raised together, and who both later served in the Union Army. Lydia lived in "a one-story frame house on the rear of Mr. Both Smith and Stevens were believed to have been involved in the antislavery movement while they lived in Lancaster.

There is no proof that an underground cistern behind the Stevens home was used in the Underground Railroad, but a number of archaeologists who have visited the cistern discovered on the property have confirmed its probable use as a hideaway for runaway slaves. The fugitives might have been delivered in barrels to the tavern next door, which Stevens also owned, and hidden in the cistern until they could be passed on to another station.

There is ample documentation that Stevens regularly assisted black fugitives and paid spies to report on slave catchers active in the area. While less definitive information exists on Smith's role in the Underground Railroad, research is continuing. However, the nature of their partnership, the proximity of her home to the cistern, and her connections in the local African-American community offer tantalizing clues.

While it was widely rumored during Stevens' lifetime and afterward that he and Lydia were lovers, no evidence exists to support that. Stevens' only comment on the matter was deliberately ambiguous: In any case, Stevens treated Lydia with great respect. He always addressed her as Madam, gave her his seat in public conveyances, and included her in social occasions with his friends.

He hired Jacob Eichholtz to paint her portrait - an unusual sign of respect for a white lawyer to show a black housekeeper. House of Representatives as an anti-slavery Whig, representing Lancaster County between and He opposed the Fugitive Slave Law and the Compromise of Lydia accompanied Stevens on his trips to Washington, DC, and was included in Stevens' social gatherings. When the new, anti-slavery Republican Party formed in the mids, Stevens helped organize it in Pennsylvania.

Stevens rode the Republican Party into Congress again in He was renominated every two years thereafter throughoften running unopposed. As a passionate believer in the principles of Radical Republicanism, the Great Commoner, as he was known, pushed for emancipation and black suffrage.

The Radicals "were primarily responsible for turning the struggle into a war not only to preserve the Union but also to extinguish slavery. She also purchased property in Washington, DC. Lydia Smith's oldest son William died in Colored Troops in He and his regiment served primarily in Virginia.

He also served as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and hence played a crucial role in Congressional funding for the Civil War.

Thaddeus Stevens

Following the war, he was chief architect of Reconstruction. The three years after the Civil War ended were perhaps Stevens most prolific period. He proposed a bill to abolish slavery, the 13th Amendment.