BIOGRAPHY

Thaddeus Stevens

S. & S. Mar. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781476793375. $28. BIOG
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Thaddeus Stevens (1792–1868) was a politician known for his staunch opposition to slavery during the Civil War, and is sometimes seen as the original champion of civil rights and one of the chief influences in Abraham Lincoln’s issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. In this biography, Levine (emeritus, history, Univ. of Illinois; The Fall of the House of Dixie) thoroughly examines and documents Stevens’s early life growing up in Vermont, following the development of his vision of a society with racial justice. The author describes how this culminated in Stevens’s actions as a lawyer in Gettysburg, PA, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he helped lead the Radical Republicans faction. Extensively researched, this work details Stevens’s many political successes, including his profound influence on the development of the 14th and 15th Amendments. Conversely, Levine also includes the politician’s personal disappointments just before his death in 1868 over his perceived failure to achieve complete success in making the United States a “full multiracial democracy.”
VERDICT Easily the most detailed and important account of Stevens, this well-written biography belongs in every academic library and all other libraries with an emphasis on American history.
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