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Historical Highlights

The Honoring of Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania

August 13, 1868–August 14, 1868
The Honoring of Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
A well-respected Member of the House, Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens served seven non-consecutive terms.
On these dates, Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Stevens was honored with a state funeral in the Capitol Rotunda. A leader of the Radical Republican faction in the House and chairman of both the Ways and Means and Appropriations committees, Stevens left his mark during his seven terms in the House. Known as the “Great Commoner,” he was instrumental in the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments as well as many Reconstruction policies. Stevens also served as one of the House Managers during the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. When Stevens died on August 11, 1868, crowds of mourners, including colleagues such as Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, came to his Washington, D.C., home to pay their respects. A regiment of soldiers escorted Stevens’s body to the Capitol Rotunda to lay in state. Visitors filed past during August 13th and into the early morning of the 14th. After the viewing, a short funeral took place in the Rotunda and Stevens’s body was transported to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for burial. Colleagues such as Charles Buckalew of Pennsylvania remembered Stevens “as the man who . . . gained the ear of the House and held it for many years against all competitors . . . and resigned his influence only with his life.” Before his death, Stevens stated, “I may say my life has not been entirely in vain. When I remember that I gave free schools to Pennsylvania . . . I think my life may have been worth the living.”

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