America's Civil War

New Look at ‘Old Thad’

The Life and Loves of Thaddeus Stevens

By Mark S. Singel Sunbury Press, 2019, $19.95

Ever since Tommy Lee Jones brought Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens vividly to life in Steven Spielberg’s 2012 Lincoln, “Old Thad” seems to have emerged from the historical shadows to which he had long been relegated, and thrust into the prominence he has long deserved. This combative, irrepressible hero of the antislavery and civil rights movements helped pummel America into recognizing if not its culpability for the sin of slavery, then at least its obligation to destroy the institution that caused the Civil War. Unfortunately for Stevens, he was so irascible, so volatile, and so flagrant about his daring private life, that he attracted few admirers in his own time, and few advocates for celebrating his legacy after his death.

According to Mark S. Singel, author of this compelling if eccentric new biography, Stevens’ lengthy absence from mainstream history can be attributed almost

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