Rediscovering the Legacy of Thaddeus Stevens

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Rediscovering the Legacy of Thaddeus Stevens

Special Collections, 4th Floor, Musselman Library

April 16, 2012 – March 8, 2013

Thaddeus Stevens, Portrait

Above: Portrait of Thaddeus Stevens reproduced from original engraving plate by J. P. McCaskey, Lancaster, PA. 1898.


"Rediscovering the Legacy of Thaddeus Stevens" honors the memory of Thaddeus Stevens, one of the country’s most powerful congressmen during and after the Civil War. This exhibit explores his aspirations for equality for people of color, his relationship with Gettysburg, and his fluctuating reputation throughout the Reconstruction period.


A fervent supporter of higher education, Stevens had strong ties to Gettysburg and Gettysburg College (then-called Pennsylvania College). While representing Gettysburg in the state legislature in 1834, Stevens was instrumental in securing $18,000 from the state to construct Gettysburg College's first building, Pennsylvania Hall. Stevens served on the College's Board of Trustees from 1834 until his death in 1868. During his lifetime he also ushered through the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which requires equal treatment under the law and extends civil liberties to the state level.


Objects featured in the exhibit include several letters, portraits, and personal items, such as a pair of boots made to accommodate Stevens’ club foot. Musselman Library would like to thank the Thaddeus Stevens Society, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, the Lancaster County Historical Society, the Adams County Historical Society, Caledonia State Park, Ross Hetrick, and Dr. Bradley Hoch for their generous contributions to this exhibit.


"Rediscovering the Legacy of Thaddeus Stevens," Special Collections"Rediscovering the Legacy of Thaddeus Stevens," Special Collections

Above: "Rediscovering the Legacy of Thaddeus Stevens," Musselman Library, Fourth Floor, Special Collections


There have been significant efforts to promote the memory of Thaddeus Stevens in the past decade. A historical wayside marker commemorating Thaddeus Stevens’ connection to Gettysburg College was dedicated on April 16 2012 on the Gettysburg College campus, less than two weeks after Stevens’ 220th birthday. The brief dedication ceremony included a welcome by Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs; remarks by Alex Munro, director of the alumni association at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pa.; Ross Hetrick, president of the Thaddeus Stevens Society; and local historian Dr. Brad Hoch. More information


This exhibit coincides with Gettysburg College’s American Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration. The College will sponsor events and programs throughout the anniversary. 2013 will mark the 150th anniversary of the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Battle of Gettysburg, and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. For more information, visit Gettysburg College 150th Commemoration of the Civil War or Gettysburg 150th.


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