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that Confederates should not be allowed to vote immediately.
Unfortunately, any chance of Stevens' vision becoming a
reality was lost when Lincoln was assassinated and Andrew
Johnson, the vice president, became president.
Amendment paled in comparison to his outrage over the
failure of Reconstruction at the end of the Civil War. He
wanted the wealthy white political power structure of the
South to be dismantled and redistributed. He proposed that
every black free man should receive 40 acres and a mule and
that Confederates should not be allowed to vote immediately.
Unfortunately, any chance of Stevens' vision becoming a
reality was lost when Lincoln was assassinated and Andrew
Johnson, the vice president, became president.

Mormons, Jews, Chinese, and women. However, the defense
of runaway or fugitive slaves gradually began to consume
the greatest amount of his time, until the abolition of slavery
became his primary political and personal focus. He was
actively involved in the Underground Railroad, assisting
runaway slaves to get to Canada, as many as 16 a week.
Thaddeus Stevens was elected to the United States House
of Representatives from 1849-1853 and from 1859 until his
death in 1868. This was the period leading up to and including
the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction.
During this time, Stevens became the most powerful
congressman in Washington. He chaired the House
Ways and Means Committee and later the Appropriations
Committee. He was responsible for funding the war effort
and later Reconstruction. His goals during this period were
the following: (1) the abolition of slavery; (2) full legal rights
regardless of race; (3) voting rights regardless of race; (4) and
the result of Reconstruction to be the empowerment of African
Americans by redistributing power and wealth in the South.
Stevens' legislative legacy is the 13th, 14th, and 15th
Amendments to the Constitution, which serve as the basis
for all civil rights legislation. Stevens drafted his own version
of the 13th Amendment, but when it failed to gain support,
he shepherded a more popular version through Congress.
It ended slavery in all states, whereas the Emancipation
Proclamation only abolished slavery in the Confederacy.
Stevens also guided the 14th Amendment through Congress.
This Amendment established a national citizenry with all
citizens given equality before the law, which no state could
alter. He was disappointed because the Amendment still made
references to males only, allowed states to restrict voting
rights based on race, and allowed Confederates to vote.
Stevens' disappointment in the shortcomings of the 14th
Amendment paled in comparison to his outrage over the
failure of Reconstruction at the end of the Civil War. He
wanted the wealthy white political power structure of the
South to be dismantled and redistributed. He proposed that
every black free man should receive 40 acres and a mule and
8 * Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

Johnson's views about the nature of Reconstruction are
reflected in this quote from his annual address to Congress
in 1867: Blacks possess less "capacity for government than
any other race of people. No independent government of any
form has ever been successful in their hands. On the contrary,
wherever they have been left to their own devices, they have
shown a constant tendency to relapse into barbarism."
Stevens hated Johnson and worked to have him impeached.
While the final vote fell one vote short in the Senate, Johnson
was permanently weakened and reduced to a figurehead for
the remainder of his term, being replaced by Ulysses Grant
in 1868.
Stevens did not live to see the passage of the 15th
Amendment; however, most would agree at the very least he
inspired it. It guaranteed all male citizens the right to vote.
Thaddeus Stevens died at midnight on August 11th, 1868. The
public expression of grief in Washington was second only to
Lincoln's. His coffin lay in State at the Capitol Rotunda, flanked
by a Black Union Honor Guard from Massachusetts. Twenty
thousand people, one-half of whom were black free men,
attended his funeral in Lancaster. He chose to be buried in the
Shriner-Concord Cemetery because it was the only cemetery
that would accept all races. He wrote the inscription on his
headstone that reads:
"I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from
any natural preference for solitude, but finding other
cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have
chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the
principles which I advocated through a long life, equality
of man before his Creator."



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