Our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy have changed. We think you'll like them better this way.

Abolitionists, Thaddeus Stevens-from Spielberg's Lincoln

  • Broadcast in Education
The Gist of Freedom

The Gist of Freedom


Follow This Show

If you liked this show, you should follow The Gist of Freedom.

Actor, Steven Anderson is The Great Abolitionist, Thaddeus Stevens!

Join The Gist of Freedom as host, Preston Washington welcomes re-enactor, Steven Anderson back to The Gist of Freedom as he protrays Thaddeus Stevens. 

Stevens is portrayal is very interesting- in the movie Lincoln as having a black mistress. Historian Steven Anderson will discuss the accuracy of this depiction. Thaddeus served for several years in the Pennsylvania state legislature  in 1848 as an antislavery Whig. He opposed the fugitive slave law and the Compromise of 1850. In 1856, Stevens was reelected to Congress as a member of the new antislavery Republican party, and soon wielded great power as the chair of the important House Ways and Means Committee. As a passionate believer in the principles of Radical Republicanism, the "Great Commoner," as he was known, pushed for emancipation and black suffrage.


Stevens an early and vehement critic of President Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction policy eventually became a leader in the effort to impeach the president. An advocate of treating Southern states during Reconstruction as "conquered provinces," Stevens encouraged strong, sweeping action by the federal government to destroy white supremacy in the South. He hoped to use the Fourteenth Amendment to confiscate plantations and redistribute the land to former slaves. He was a member of Congress’ joint committee on Reconstruction, but it was dominated by moderates. During Johnson’s impeachment trial, Stevens was so ill that he had to be carried into the Senate chamber and died in Washington, D. C., less than three months after the President’s acquittal.