Magazine July 1, 2021, Issue

Thaddeus Stevens’s Uncompromising Fight for Freedom

From the cover of Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary, Fighter for Racial Justice (Simon & Schuster)
Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary, Fighter for Racial Justice, by Bruce Levine (Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., $28)

Historian Bruce Levine sets out to tell the story of the “zigs and zags” in the career path of 19th-century Penn­syl­vania congressman and civil-rights advocate Thaddeus Stevens; along the way he shows how our political system managed to advance human freedom. Levine deftly weaves political, social, and intellectual history into eleven brief chapters on the life of a politician who was at the cutting edge of arguments over slavery and equality.

Born with a club foot in 1792 in Danville, Vt., and named for Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the Polish general and hero of the American Revolution, Stevens embodies one version of an

This article appears as “A Radical Achievement” in the July 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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