The definitive biography of one of the 19th century’s greatest statesmen, encompassing his decades-long fight against slavery, his key role in the Union war effort, and his postwar struggle to bring racial justice to America.
Thaddeus Stevens was among the first to see the Civil War as an opportunity for a second American revolution - a chance to remake the country as a true multiracial democracy. One of the foremost abolitionists in Congress in the years leading up to the war, he was a leader of the young Republican Party’s radical wing, fighting for anti-slavery and anti-racist policies long before party colleagues like Abraham Lincoln endorsed them. It was he, for instance, who urged Lincoln early on to free those enslaved throughout the US and to welcome Black men into the Union’s armies.
During the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, Stevens demanded equal civil and political rights for Black Americans, rights eventually embodied in the 14th and 15th amendments. But while Stevens in many ways pushed his party - and America - toward equality, he also championed ideas too radical for his fellow Congressmen ever to support, such as confiscating large slaveholders’ estates and dividing the land among those who had been enslaved.
In Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary, acclaimed historian Bruce Levine has written the definitive biography of one of the most visionary statesmen of the 19th century and a forgotten champion for racial justice in America.
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The fight for racial justice is still being waged in 2021!
The fortitude of Steven’s was inspiring and the ebb and flow of the fight for racial justice has application today! I knew of Steven’s but can not more fully appreciate his efforts.
Excellent bio of a political hero
As discussed in the beginning of the book, Thaddeus Stevens’ name has been dragged though the mud of history by revisionists and sympathizers of oppression. This book is a revealing and honest look at an imperfect yet uniquely admirable man who persisted through the uniquely grotesque business of American politics. This book reveals in both its critiques and its praise for Stevens that he was a true hero, not because he was perfect, but because, through his imperfections, he was consistently growing and evolving.
The reader’s performance was excellent. He was compelling all the way through. I can’t recommend this book highly enough to anyone interested in 19th century America or its politics.