Talk:Thaddeus Stevens

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"Progress of Liberty"[edit]

The phrase is in itself POV. I had removed it before and replaced it with "moves to abolish slavery". I don't see why it was reverted, both phrases imply the same thing but the latter does it minus the POV.--Jersey Devil 06:37, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

It is not POV to tell what politicians thought using their own words. Rjensen 06:49, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Please, be civil. Any other opinions on this?--Jersey Devil 07:53, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I don't see any incivility on this Talk page yet. Don't jump the gun. :) However, I agree with Jersey Devil in this case — if "progress of liberty" is Stevens' phrase, it should definitely be there, but in quotation marks (and preferably with a reference to the source). However, I don't see any online record of Stevens' ever using that particular phrase, so I see no reason at the moment to assume those were "his own words." I say, remove it.
However, the wording "moves to abolish slavery" is a bit blunt and loses the main nuance of the phrase — that Stevens believed that the abolition of slavery was a moral necessity. So I have not reverted Rjensen's phrasing, nor "quoted" it (since it's not a quote); I'm just noting that it does have a POV. --Quuxplusone 01:15, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
The term "progress of liberty is Jefferson. Stevens used the term "genius of liberty" and "gospel of liberty" so it should be changed Rjensen 01:23, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Removal of one sentence[edit]

I've taken out the following sentence because I don't know what it means, it is bizarre, and incomplete.

At another time, while delivering a speech to the Senate and noticing one of his opponents entering the chambers, paused and stated that he would wait for the Senator from <state> to slink to his chair and stick to it only by the ooze coming out of his body.

skywriter 06:01, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I removed an unsupported end-of-sentence from the Cinematic section: "...and perhaps more evidence of Smith's interest in women than in Stevens." coachs 13:25, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Well, coachs, someone put it back "In one of the film's final scenes, Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith are explicitly depicted as lovers, though there is no evidence of their romantic attachment and perhaps more evidence of Smith's interest in women than in Stevens (see Lydia Hamilton Smith)."

I went to the related article on Lydia Hamilton Smith but found nothing in its content to suggest that Ms. Smith had a romantic or sexual interest in women. I have not removed it but I want to know who wrote this and what is their evidence to support the claim? Gracieat5x (talk) 00:17, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Among scholars of African American women's communities, Smith is known to have been an active participant in political and social activities with Elizabeth Keckley and other politically connected women. The prejudicial assumption that she was merely a "mistress" has long been considered as a convenient cover for her political organization activities. Most of the letters and writings on this subject are not yet on the web so they don't lend themselves to Wikipedia-level verifiability. Thomas Frederick Woodley's 1937 biography of Stevens, The Great Leveler (Thomas Frederick Woodley, The Great Leveler: Thaddeus Stevens. Stackpole Sons; First Edition edition (1937)) examines Smith's interest in Mary Todd Lincoln. Smith patterned her hair and dresses on Mrs. Lincoln.

Since you've given no source for this claim at all and there is no such text or subtext in the Spielberg film, I've taken that weird lesbian sentence out once again. (talk) 21:16, 27 April 2013 (UTC) Lesbianism isn't "weird" and you should keep your political views off Wikipedia. There were many lesbians in the 19th c and good evidence that Lydia Hamilton Smith was one. Not all legitimate scholarship is available in online sources. Certainly Spielberg's film is NOT scholarship.Critic11 (talk) 19:17, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

Evidence has been provided that period people believed she and Stephens were engaged in a long-term sexual relationship, so the first part of the sentence needs to be removed. So far, no evidence has been provided that Lydia Hamilton Smith was sexually attracted to women, let alone more attracted to them than to men. Copying a famous person's style is not evidence of one's sexual preferences; I suspect few Elvis impersonators were sexually attracted to him. To use this copying as proof of Ms. Smith's sexual tastes is original research, not evidence. Edward321 (talk) 03:05, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
The fact is that Smith's sexuality (and the fact that she hid behind normal expectations that she was Stephens's mistress) is talked about widely at scholarly conferences. Unfortunately these proceedings don't always get into print, which creates a problem for challenging the dominant narrative. It is unfortunate that a filmmaker decided to dramatize something without talking to scholar who study this. So his version will remain until the things get into print, but this will happen. Smith was FAR more than a simple bedmate to a congressman.Critic11 (talk) 12:01, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Smith was more than a bedmate to a congressman, but this has nothing to with whether she slept with Stephens, a woman, or no one at all. The important policy is [[Wikipedia:Verifiability]. What you believe is fact is your opinion. If your view is supported by a significant portion of current scholarship, it should start appearing in reliable sources. At that point it should be mentioned along with other reliable sources that disagree, allowing the reader to form their own conclusions. Edward321 (talk) 12:58, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes that's what I just said above, if you read it. You are clearly not in the academic community or you would know for how many years things are discussed at conferences that take years to appear in print. THe outrage among African American scholars about Spielberg's film among scholars is legendary but won't ever appear in print. Critic11 (talk) 15:03, 29 April 2013 (UTC)



As a great admirer of both Thaddeus Stevens and William Jennings Bryan I removed the reference to Stevens as the Great Commoner as it is common knowledge among the historically literate that that sobriquet was most uniquely applied to Bryan.-Tom Cod

Note: As a great admirer of Stevens and W.J. Bryan (not so much), I must note that Stevens, though he was certainly great, was referred to as the "old commoner." -S. Jones

What is his cause of death?[edit]

I feel this is a bit vague.[edit]

"He largely set the course of Reconstruction. He wanted to begin to rebuild the South, using military power to force the South to recognize the equality of Freedmen. When President Johnson resisted, Stevens proposed and passed the resolution for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868."

The impeachment of Johnson was a bit more complex and this gives the wrong impression, Johnson was impeached for violating the "Tenure of Office Act" or something like that. The act was passed because he was interfering with reconstruction and the R. Republicans wanted an excuse to throw him out, however, he didn't actually fire a cabinet member and violate the act until, I believe, about a year had passed and his term had almost ended.

The article gives the impression of.

Johnson: "Haha! I have sent the generals who enforced your reconstruction laws to Montana congress, what ho!"

Thaddeus: "Thwarting our reconstruction!" *gasp* "I move to impeach him."

Congress: "So moved."

Senate: "Impeachment should not be a political weapon!"

Johnson: "Maybe next time Thaddeus!"



Johnson's an ass -> Tenure of Office to Protect the last R.R. cabinet member -> a year passes -> Stanton barricades his office for two months -> Move to impeach.

- This post is actually pretty good, if a bit theatrical. PLEASE sign your posts. and, whoever you are, you GOTTA see Lincoln (2012 film). TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 22:38, 7 December 2012 (UTC)


The article's lead states "Historians' views of Stevens have swung sharply since his death as interpretations of Reconstruction have changed.", but then fails to document the swing back into favour Stevens has enjoyed among at least some historians in the last two generations. Wouldn't it be natural to have a bit about that, especially after talk on "The Birth of a Nation" (whose viewpoint is hardly current!)? Feketekave (talk) 15:15, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

(See Foner on Stevens - e.g. See Feketekave (talk) 15:16, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

No, it would not be natural at all for a Wikipedia article to cover the swing of historical opinion back in favor of Thaddeus Stevens. In the late ninteenth Century, Stevens was well regarded for protecting the rights of the folk known in those days as "negroes". But after reconstruction ended, most of Steven's handiwork was undone, by the instituion of the Jim Crow laws. These were implemented by Democrat dominated legislatures in the states of the old Confederacy.

But for the first 60-70 years of the 20th Century, the Democratic party represented a coalition of Northern Leftists and Southern Segregationists. Leftist historians came to dominate Academia, and would brook no criticism of either the current or historical Southern Democrats. This is why Stevens was vilified as a "Radical Republican" who failed to support the kindly conciliation policy supported by Lincoln until his death.

As a stong supporter of Progressive views, Wikipedia should not be expected to give credence to historians who tried to rehabilitate Stevens. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:03, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Crittenden-Johnson Resolution[edit]

The house of representatives records do not support the claim that Thaddeus Stevens was one of the two representatives that voted against the Crittenden resolution. It infact says that nays where Mr. Henry C. Burnett Mr. John W. Reid. see,gottscho,detr,nfor,wpa,aap,cwar,bbpix,cowellbib,calbkbib,consrvbib,bdsbib,dag,fsaall,gmd,pan,vv,presp,varstg,suffrg,nawbib,horyd,wtc,toddbib,mgw,ncr,ngp,musdibib,hlaw,papr,lhbumbib,rbpebib,lbcoll,alad,hh,aaodyssey,magbell,bbc,dcm,raelbib,runyon,dukesm,lomaxbib,mtj,gottlieb,aep,qlt,coolbib,fpnas,aasm,denn,relpet,amss,aaeo,mff,afc911bib,mjm,mnwp,rbcmillerbib,molden,ww2map,mfdipbib,afcnyebib,klpmap,hawp,omhbib,rbaapcbib,mal,ncpsbib,ncpm,lhbprbib,ftvbib,afcreed,aipn,cwband,flwpabib,wpapos,cmns,psbib,pin,coplandbib,cola,tccc,curt,mharendt,lhbcbbib,eaa,haybib,mesnbib,fine,cwnyhs,svybib,mmorse,afcwwgbib,mymhiwebib,uncall,afcwip,mtaft,manz,llstbib,fawbib,berl,fmuever,cdn,upboverbib,mussm,cic,afcpearl,awh,awhbib,sgp,wright,lhbtnbib,afcesnbib,hurstonbib,mreynoldsbib,spaldingbib,sgproto,scsmbib,afccalbib,mamcol DJW2tone (talk) 22:50, 20 November 2011 (UTC)


Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School[edit]

I attended the Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School at Broad and Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia, PA, in the late 1940s. It was built in 1926 as the Thaddeus Stevens School of Practice, a teacher training school. When I attended, it was a magnet school with a city-wide attendance zone. It later was a neighborhood school. In 1975 the school was closed and the building used for offices. The school board sold the building in 2005. It is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. (talk) 21:45, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

See Thaddeus Stevens School of Observation and add documented material if you can. Smallbones(smalltalk) 22:54, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

One of the references has become unsourced[edit]

Hi all, in the course of starting to make the footnotes in this article more consistent, I discovered that is no longer an available online source. It appears to have been taken over by a local historical society and the content presumably referenced by the link has been removed by the new group. Since there are other sources cited, I am inclined to remove the citations. However, since an accurate characterization of Smith and Stevens relationship has been the source of discussion (presumably because of that Spielberg movie), it seemed prudent to post fair warning here in order see what other interested parties can locate. My proposal for now is simply to remove the references since they are un-useful but that may re-open the worm can of the various statements that they help support. Comments welcome and alternative approaches encouraged! Dictioneer (talk) 21:58, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Content can still be referenced thanks to The Internet Archive. Here is their bit on Thaddeus Stevens.[1] Here is what they have on Lydia Hamilton Smith.[2] Edward321 (talk) 23:20, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I've updated the references to go to the archived page. Dictioneer (talk) 21:31, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

What is all this?[edit]

"Since the leading candidate in opposition to President John Quincy Adams, former Tennessee senator Andrew Jackson, was a Mason who mocked opponents of the group, Anti-Masonry became closely associated with opposition to Jackson, and to his policies once he was elected president in 1828."

Anybody care to clarify this "sentence"? I would, but I refuse to participate because I don't wish to waste my time with clarifying anything since I am sure it will be reversed. I have had enough of that bullshit. — Preceding unsigned comment added by W1 m2 (talkcontribs) 20:11, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

I don't see the issue. I'm working on renovating the article, and perhaps everything is not up to snuff yet, but if you think it could be phrased better, go ahead. I'm an admin, I doubt anyone will revert it.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:36, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The sentence is slightly long, but nothing out of the ordinary. I'm grammatically-challenged but shouldn't it be "former Tennessee Senator Andrew Jackson"? BTW, i've contributed a couple photos here and will likely be going out to Lancaster again soon, maybe to a couple of museums. Are there any photos that would be useful? Still trying to find that stuffed eagle in Philadelphia. Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:55, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Make that 3 photos plus uploading the LH Smith photo, plus a QR code in Congressional Cemetery that only 10 people have scanned in a full year. There is a reconstructed iron furnace near Gettysburg, but it looks too reconstructed even for Stevens's taste. Smallbones(smalltalk) 21:02, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Images are a great need, there are a few in the Library of Congress and National Archives. I'm not sure what is on offer in Lancaster but I'm not inclined to be picky. And please weigh in at any time on the text. I'm not sure I've captured Stevens the man.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:17, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
And I think the lower case is consistent with what people want, as it is not actually being used as a title "former Tennessee senator".--Wehwalt (talk) 21:19, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Jackson was indeed a former senator but everyone called him "General" Rjensen (talk) 19:36, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Getting too long?[edit]

I think there's a natural upper limit on the optimum length for this sort of topic -- it's now about 15,000 words and that's on the high side for what students are likely to read. So I recommend that when new material is added that old less useful material be trimmed. Stevens is a very important person, so losing readers would be a disservice. Rjensen (talk) 19:34, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Fair enough. I'm concerned everyone's coming here after seeing Lincoln and his biographers didn't realize there would be so much interest in the 13th Amendment. I'm wondering if it should be made to stand out more.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:38, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
Removal of the school material seems to be contentious. Perhaps this should be discussed before anyone gets into 3RR territory. BusterD (talk) 19:40, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
I can go either way on the school. I thought it ended the section nicely, and also gave a reason for only talking about this one school rather than the dozen-odd, some with articles, some not, which were mentioned in the old version of the article. I wanted to give a reason to limit it to these two schools, one was founded by his legacy, the other important because Amy went there. But the article is long, and strictly speaking this has limited relevance to Stevens as a person. Whatever people think is fine.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:44, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
For my part, I consider the story about the subject's cultural resonance (and a president's appreciation of that resonance). I'd like to hear why a user reverted the deletion. BusterD (talk) 19:50, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
Carter picked the nearest all-black school to the White House for Amy--the oldest one in DC was of course downtown. The name of the school hardly played a role. So it's a very minor bit of info about Stevens...close to trivia. Rjensen (talk) 20:09, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
I disagree; it was a significant and deliberate decision to send Amy to a public school and the school chosen was considered with an eye to academics. I think it needs to stay. I am also not at all concerned about length. "Students" are not the only people who read these articles, this isn't a kiddie topic. Compared to something like my recent FA on a not-political figure, this article isn't even close to too long. Montanabw(talk) 21:24, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
university students are the main audience for this topic--and their eyes glaze over...or more likely they find a shorter article to do a paper on. The more little items get included the less important the Big Things appear. Rjensen (talk) 21:31, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
Is this your opinion only? Do you have some special insight as to who reads Wikipedia articles? How do you know that? Where would someone get such metadata? As to university students eyes glassing over, I'll concede you have more knowledge on this subject than most of us. BusterD (talk) 21:57, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
How do I get info? For student use I talk & listen to about 100 k12 and college teachers & librarians every year. (my next talk on Wikipedia usage is next month in England; I gave a talk in Missouri in April). I also have consulted with teachers in the Wiki Foundation Education Committee & as an "ambassador" i advise college teachers on how to get students involved in Wiki editing. I've edited paper encyclopedias & can say this article is written and sourced for university level students (& advanced high schools too). Kids without that background would be baffled because it covers pretty sophisticated topics based on serious scholarships about politics & Reconstruction. As for post-college level readers, alas few people have any metadata -- the research on Wikipedia is largely about us editors so we know little about our readers in general & even less about readers of specific articles like this one. Rjensen (talk) 22:49, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The "it's too long so let's dump Amy Carter" argument doesn't wash. The human element often is a good hook, bringing history alive in the modern world. And, last I checked, university students are still discouraged from using encyclopedias as term paper sources; (at least I still ban my students from citing them - though I do suggest that WP good and featured articles can be a good place to find more reliable source material than they usually find on their own) I think that the white child of a President of the United States attended a school specifically named to honor his legacy merits the sentence or so that's in there, it's not undue weight. And it certainly is not worth the waste of bandwidth we are using here to keep it out. It isn't as if we are trying to insert characters from video games or the 2-second mention of the topic on a forgotten sitcom... Montanabw(talk) 00:00, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

the idea that Amy went to that school because of its name is ridiculous and is a good way to convince teachers that Wikipedia is stupid and not to be used. Rjensen (talk) 00:22, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
I think that implication's coming from the Foner quote. If I removed that, would the rest pass? I intend to do additional cutting, especially in the Pennsylvania sections.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:37, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
Frankly, I didn't see that quote as implying in the least that this was the "reason," it was more Foner noting the serindipity of history. I rather liked that quote, and Foner is a pretty respectable source, but if it tones down the drama to remove it, I can live with that. Montanabw(talk) 03:57, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

"aided and abetted by the purest man in America"[edit]

Having seen this quotation already at Thirteenth Amendment we had been wondering for a while about the context in which Stevens made this comment. It would have been a pretty bizarre thing for Stevens to say, given his feelings about Lincoln. This guy Jay Case looked into it and found little evidence that the statement could be traced back to Stevens—It originated in 1898 from this other guy James Scovel who didn't really know Stevens and seems to be a bit of a Lincoln apologist. (*Ahem*.) This guy John Fea seems to agree with Case. Vorenberg (2001) also thinks this is weird, though doesn't attribute the weird to unreliability by Scovel. Vorenberg (2007) also calls it "gossip". Durr, same material reprinted as a chapter. We say: Let's drop this one like it's hot. groupuscule (talk) 14:37, 30 June 2013 (UTC) revised 22:29, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Well, as Jay Case points out, it's quoted without caveat by David Herbert Donald [3], who's considered one of the all-time great Lincoln biographers. I wouldn't mind adding a "reportedly", and perhaps an explanatory footnote noting that this came from Scovel and adding Vorenberg's skepticism, but I'd say that Donald is a reputable enough source on Lincoln's life that this doesn't need to be cut. -- Khazar2 (talk) 15:16, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Stevens's biographes don't seem to have much doubt about it. It's really not urgently necessary to have it, but it may get readded by people as he's fairly well known for saying it. In fact, he says it in the film.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:32, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
OK, agreeing with both of you. Footnote is a better option... will compose soon. Wehwalt, we appreciate your edits to the article. It's hard to make sacrifices! But recent cuts don't seem like a good rationale for expansion freeze. Stevens is best known as a hardcore rights activists around the time of the civil war; we must at least mention his stance on key issues like the Wade–Davis Bill, Union blockade, etc. Everybody has been doing great work on this article so far (we particularly appreciate the historiography section) but that doesn't mean it's complete. groupuscule (talk) 19:31, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Your edit was a bit off, for the reason I stated in my edit summary. If you check the article when it was at its peak, you will find, as I recall, a pipe to Wade-Davis, its fate, etc. But I will adapt to whatever the community wants, as long as someone gives me cover so they don't say "Oh, it's Wehwalt trying to top War and Peace again.".--Wehwalt (talk) 19:57, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't think the "cash payments" bit is universally accepted. Certainly not from Lincoln or the government. And I'd cut back the Vorenberg quote to the first two sentences. The rest seems to be his guesswork.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:48, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Just reverted this with an extra citation, without checking the talk page first. Sorry, bad manners. But: We don't know of any contemporary "allegations" of bribery & corruption—only of matter-of-fact claims (in addition to many uncertain claims) by recent historians. Regarding article length and community displeasure, we would of course be honored to place our abundant groupuscular political capital at your service, though we cannot promise much in the way of cash payments. Re: the Blockade we will look into it further. What is a good incarnation of the article representing its "peak"? Shalom, groupuscule (talk) 22:19, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
P.S. There were in fact contemporary allegations, and Wehwalt has a point about Lincoln's personal connection. Is "Lincoln administration" wrong though? groupuscule (talk) 22:29, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
I'd say the article's probably at its peak right now; Wehwalt's polishing it up for FA and has a peer review running at the moment. As for the footnote, I think it's sufficient to just note that Vorenberg is skeptical of the account in a single sentence; I'm just taking a quick glance here, but quoting a full paragraph from him seems to overweight his POV. -- Khazar2 (talk) 22:24, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Agreed on shortening Vorenberg. groupuscule (talk) 22:29, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
What I meant by peak was maximum length, about 109K as I recall. Just click on the history tab. you might have to go past the first page. I still think the allegations re Lincoln should be toned down. We can run it by someone like Rjensen, who is a published historian and get his views.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:36, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Rjensen is indeed a published historian... with a very particular point of view about Lincoln, the Civil War, and the history of the United States in general. Although of course his contributions to the Encyclopedia are welcome, we sometimes find appeals to his personal authority a bit grating. That said, we revised the lobby sentence and it may now be more to your (Wehwalt's) liking. groupuscule (talk) 23:04, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Um, why are you always saying "we"? Imperial, editorial, or some other thing? :) As for Rjensen, he and I have had significant difference of opinions, regarding 1896 mostly, but I don't' see why his opinion should be discounted.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:12, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
We are a dolphin brain with a human servant. groupuscule (talk) 23:19, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
I added a direct link to Scovil's article, which is pretty interesting, and dropped the Vorenberg statement. The latter has nothing to say about Stevens or about slavery (it's about the Lincoln administration efforts to kill a bill affecting a railroad in New Jersey.) Rjensen (talk) 23:18, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
... groupuscule (talk) 23:19, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
(**headdesk**) Removed an unnecessarily editorialized point not clearly supported by source cited. Not sure new sources aren't kiddie books? Montanabw(talk) 02:15, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
everyone in Congress in 1861 agreed it had authority over slavery in DC & the territories. so it was easy to abolish slavery there. HOWEVER most doubted or rejected Stevens' claim that Congress had jurisdiction over slavery in the Confederate states. Stevens said that was so because they were dead/ had committed suicide, but the prevailing view was that they were in suspended animation and should be brought back whole (as Lincoln tried to do as late as Hampton Roads Conference in Feb 1865). for a good discussion see Kenneth Stampp and Leon F. Litwack, eds. (1969). Reconstruction: An Anthology of Revisionist Writings. Louisiana State University Press. p. 133.  Rjensen (talk) 03:45, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
But not "the reason" - the phrasing misstates the issue. The reason slavery was abolished in DC was not motivated by having authoritu; there were other motives. I will note that Stampp is a persuasive source, IMHO. However, the part of the book you are quoting here does not cite your "everybody agreed" statement; it discusses the "state suicide" material. (Plus, saying "everybody" is generally poor writing in this sort of context.) Montanabw(talk) 18:23, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks on that. Did you have a view on the alleged cash payments by Lincoln and his administration to gain the House passage of the 13th Amendment?--Wehwalt (talk) 10:23, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
"alleged cash payments by Lincoln..." I saw the movie--but otherwise have not seen much evidence of that in a reliable secondary source. Rjensen (talk) 16:18, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
The quote in my opinion passes the usual rules of historical evidence. I looked into James Scovel --he was in a position to know--he was a former top Republican leader in New Jersey, (president of the state senate in the war); he says he knew Stevens and gives numerous very specific details, and wrote a very perceptive essay in 1898. That's pretty solid evidence that Stevens did say "The greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America." Was Stevens sarcastic (he was famous for sarcasm????) We don't know what Stevens meant by "corruption." Getting Congressmen who did not really oppose slavery to vote for the 13th would perhaps be corruption to a moralist like Stevens regardless of whether any promises of $$$$/ jobs were made or kept. Rjensen (talk) 16:40, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough. I've rewritten that paragraph, losing the definite "money" angle and dropping Scovell into a footnote. If you think I'm engaging in synthesis, given what you just said, by putting the allegation of bribery and Stevens's quote into the same sentence, then I will try again.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:01, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

the Scovel Saga continues[edit]

Summing up recent events:

  • Three editors agree on a to keep James Scovel quote, with a footnote—on the grounds that its sourcing was questionable, and it fits not at all with Stevens's general attitudes towards Lincoln.
  • Wehwalt says tone down the "cash payments" claim and let's consult Rjensen.
  • Groupuscule tones down the "cash payments" claim and says that we shouldn't accept appeals to Rjensen's authority.
    • Groupuscule provides a citation to a text by LaWanda Cox and John H. Cox stating: "That money and patronage were available to speed passage of the Amendment, however, is not merely credible; it is undoubtedly correct." Cox & Cox go on to argue that although money may have changed hands, this is difficult to prove from the records; that's why we wrote "offers of money and political appointments".
  • As if summoned, Rjensen, without addressing the lengthy discussion on the talk page, makes a number of changes to the article:
    • An editorialization about emancipation in the District of Columbia which is not supported in the cited source.
    • Rjensen deleted the footnote on Scovel entirely. The footnote includes a quotation from Michael Vorenberg, which begins: "Stevens's account of Lincoln's involvement, reported secondhand more than forty years after the fact, seems implausible, especially when considered next to Nicolay's firsthand report." Yet Rjensen's edit summary reads: "Vorenberg statement is not needed -- it's not about Stevens". In the same edit, Rjensen deletes the description of alleged vote trading scheme that provoked Stevens to utter the alleged "aided and abetted" words.
    • Rjensen deletes a cite of Trefousse and replaces with "Lincoln and Friends".
  • When challenged by Montanabw on the D.C. edit, Rjensen inserts an even more ridiculous version. (Rjensen actually wrote the words "because everyone in Congress agreed...")
  • Wehwalt moves the mention of Scovel to a footnote and writes "The quote was first popularized by James Scovel" ... as if confident that it is an exact quote of Stevens!

In the opinion of historians Case, Fea, and Vorenberg, Stevens did not literally utter the sentence: "The greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America." This quotation is at best a partial reconstruction by a Lincoln fanboy who himself thought that Lincoln was the "purest" man in America. Stevens thought that Lincoln's policies... in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865, were "usurpations" of the community's will. Rjensen's theory that Stevens was being sarcastic is interesting, although one would not expect the sarcasm to have been lost on Scovel. Stevens supported the 13th Amenmdnet and may even have appreciated the underhanded means used to pass it through Congress, but there is no reason to believe he perceived the Lincoln administration's 13th Amendment push as a noble effort undertaken by fundamentally good-hearted people.

For us to highlight a dubious quotation suggesting otherwise is dishonest—particularly when we might chose to describe dozens of other quotations to the contrary. We consensed on the talk page that the quotation should have a place in the article, attributed to Scovel and with a footnote explaining its origins. We agreed that this footnote would contain the first sentence of the Vorenberg quotation. Can we please restore that state of affairs? We should also restore the description of the Seward lobby as described by Cox&Cox and Vorenberg, instead of basing our language on Rjensen's opinions. Thanks, groupuscule (talk) 21:44, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Cox & Cox also say (page 27) "The Blair letter raises the question of corruption. There are a number of hints from contemporaries (for the most part they are only hints) that bribery was used to gain votes." The material you cite on page 28 is uncited. Accordingly, it is their opinion. I would prefer to let the reader decide. After all, we don't actually know that if Stevens did say that, that he was talking about Lincoln.
One solution is to eliminate the quote from the article altogether. I am reluctant, as it is well-known, and it may be restored by those who, as I did and Rjensen did and I suspect most of us did, saw the movie. Thoughts?--Wehwalt (talk) 22:24, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
I think they need to stay; the movie exists, its content exists, the claims made there exist; the issue needs to be faced and taught with proper scholarly sources. Montanabw(talk) 23:47, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Vorenberg has a problem. he says "Stevens's account of Lincoln's involvement, reported secondhand..." not true. the Scovel quote is given as firsthand--Scovel has enough detail to prove he knew and talked to Stevens personally and we know Scovel was a key playes in the New Jersey Camden & Amboy RR deal that gets tied in. one can image Scovel and Stevens talking. Scovill says emancipation was passed by Lincoln who was the " purest man in America." [Scovill did talk that way]. Stevens, famous for his quick, sharp wit, snaps back sarcastically, "The greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America." [his is my conjecture but it fits with the facts & with the odd way Scovel introduced the quote in his essay, making it an afterthought to a railroad issue that did involve bribes in the NJ legislature where he was a GOP leader. Vorenberg discusses a RR trade off to get its bill & decides Lincoln said "no" because of what Lincoln's aides said [p 200]. Stevens never hinted what manner of "corruption" was involved. Trading votes in return for patronage is the way American politics has always worked, and worldwide as well. What is especially odd is that Vorenberg says that vote trading by Lincoln was "unseemly political bargaining" (p 198). Rjensen (talk) 00:10, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
We might have gotten a overheated about these issues—sorry. Wehwalt, you are right that Cox & Cox use mitigating language elsewhere, so we can abide with your change as it stands. Maybe down the line we can create Passage of the Thirteenth Amendment and explore the Seward lobby in gory detail. Rjensen, the scenario you propose above is imaginative and plausible. Would you agree that if sarcasm is a reasonable explanation for the "aided & abetted" statement, some sort of discussion about its origins is warranted? Happy July to everybody. groupuscule (talk) 06:00, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
That sounds like a very worthwhile project. I don't see any way to reliably discern Stevens's intent, so what could we say? Let's let the reader decide; perhaps it will get him to check out history. OK, let's move on and make sure the rest of the article is up to specs so this can go to FAC when my current nominee, Three-dollar piece finally clears the page.--Wehwalt (talk) 06:34, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
In my opinion the famous Stevens quote is clearly sarcastic on its face (something like "yes Jesus Christ saved the world but he did it with the devil's help") Stevens was famous in Washington for his snappy & sarcastic one-liners, and this is an example. Scovel says Stevens told him that in conversation. I'm off to the UK to give a paper (about how Wikipedia studies wars) and do some research. I'll have very limited internet for a week or so. Rjensen (talk) 09:40, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Enjoy the trip and the research.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:10, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Is everyone happy with the state of the article? Thanks to my colleague Coemgenus, the three-dollar piece picked up its third support, meaning it will probably pass soon, unless something happens! I don't want to nominate this article while anyone's unhappy, this is a consensus exercise (I'd probably wait a few days rather than nominate Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar, which is next in line).--Wehwalt (talk) 19:34, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Just about. We will do a copyedit & wikilinkification of the "Reconstruction" section and maybe add another line or two on Stevens & A14. groupuscule (talk) 20:05, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
I tweaked your changes a bit, doubt you will find anything objectionable in what I did.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:40, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Wehwalt, we agree with your changes so far. (We liked "one blot" even absent the criticism of Stevens' opponents, but maybe this quote can pop up somewhere else.) We need to hit the library for some mop-up research on Reconstruction legislation. This can happen on 5 July. Also we notice that the "Impeachment" section is quite long. Although much of the material is A+ and directly relates to Stevens, there are a few parts that could be easily moved to the Impeachment article proper. Happy 4 July. groupuscule (talk) 05:23, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Don't go overboard on cutting, even with a "main" template, the reader shouldn't have to hunt for info. You too.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:42, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Possible additions[edit]

The article is looking really good. Neither of the big two bios was available in the library (and Thaddeus Stevens and the Fight for Negro Rights sadly didn't amount to much). We were hoping to add a little more info on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Second Freedmen's Bureau Bill (the one that actually passed, in July), the Southern Homestead Act, and maybe other significant legislative items in 1866. This was a huge year for Congress, with Stevens seemingly right in the middle of it. There oughta be at very minimum equal coverage between the fizzled Impeachment and a whole year's worth of nation-altering legislation. Maybe someone has access to these books and can add a little more detail from this period? We can also try to hunt down some articles. groupuscule (talk) 11:15, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

I am hesitant. We had such material in the article, but if you review the suggested cuts at the peer review, due to length, it was suggested they be cut. I do, of course, have the two bios you mention, Brodie and Trefousse, though I am away from home until Monday night. I would like to nominate the article for FAC, but really do not wish to until everyone is on board with it. If you feel you need more time with it, then I will nominate the Stone Mountain half dollar. My numismatic articles have been slow to pass, so this would delay the Stevens nomination probably three or four weeks.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:56, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
OK, we're not trying to be the monkeywrench here. And know little about the FA process. We'll check out the peer review and try and make changes with some finality tonight. Do you have any thoughts about this issue of weighting, between 1866 legislation & impeachment proceedings? Shalom, groupuscule (talk) 15:14, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
I favor facts that help the reader put the subject matter in context. I assume that the reader really doesn't know that much about 1866 and that the significance of Stevens's actions might be lost on him. Stevens's views seem pretty mainstream today but they were shockingly radical in his time especially before a segment of the Republican Party came around to him. Rights of minorities confiscating lands from losers of war or interfering with state sovereignty these position were very startling in their time. If you want to put more about the bills that's fine but even though they were harsh on the south they did not go far enough for Stevens Try to make that clear.Wehwalt (talk) 15:36, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
I wanted to pop by and note that I had no particular issues with the material that was cut, but it was chopped more to keep the peace, IMHO. Either way, Wehwalt makes a good point that anything added needs to educate the reader and avoid a WP:UNDUE issue. Adding a lot of new material this late can mess things up. Perhaps review the diffs of what was there previously and see if anything new can improve upon what was cut. Otherwise, leave it out, perhaps. Montanabw(talk) 20:26, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
due to real life issues I'm unable to focus on this for likely a few days so I will look at it when I can still editing but only marginal stuffWehwalt (talk) 22:15, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Discuss new edits[edit]

I did a revert of a bunch of new stuff that was suddenly added without discussion or consensus at talk. Some of this material may be suitable for inclusion, but as the Peer Review was closed and the article is now at FAC, new additions need to be closely scrutinized. This, I will put the material here for discussion. Montanabw(talk) 20:12, 12 July 2013 (UTC):

  1. "Trefousse, his leading biographer, concludes that Stevens "was one of the most influential representatives ever to serve in Congress. [He dominated] the House with his wit, knowledge of parliamentary law, and sheer willpower, even though he was often unable to prevail."[1]
    My problem with the above is that we need yet another source for the statement that Trefousse is his "leading biographer." Who says? When? Does anyone dispute this? Also, needs an analysis of the conclusion, a discussion if the conclusion quoted here belonged in the section where it was placed, and so on. Montanabw(talk) 20:12, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
  2. Historians often argue that during and after the war Stevens, with his leadership of the Radicals, control of the agenda of the Ways and Means and Reconstruction committees, and his domineering debating skills, was perhaps the most powerful member of Congress, though he did not get all he wanted. Robert V. Remini, the historian of the House, says that in 1861 he quickly became "the most powerful member of the House."[2][3][4][5][6] He focused his attention on defeating the Confederacy, financing the war, ending slavery, and securing equal rights for the Freedmen.
    Needs spotcheck for quality validity of sources, final sentence unsourced and somewhat POV, and overall benefit of adding this summary. Montanabw(talk) 20:12, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
  3. Deletion of a paragraph and addition of: "As chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Stevens took charge of major legislation that funded the war effort and revolutionized the nation's economic policies regarding tariffs, income and excise taxes, national banks, greenback currency, and western railroad land grants.[7]"
    Ditto, plus deletion of sourced material is a problem, and seems to be unneeded redundancy, also too many flowery adjectives ("Powerful" Ways and Means... yes, duh...) But a section intro may also be a useful addition. Discuss. Montanabw(talk) 20:12, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
My major concern is that most of that stuff is already in there. Perhaps not the Western land grants, tariffs, and taxes, but some of that was cut to keep the article short. The ways and means whereby Stevens financed the war is not why most people are interested in him, and I tried to keep to have some of it in there, but to keep it brief to leave more room for slavery and the conflict with Johnson.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:31, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
And wasn't the person who tried to add all this the same person who was complaining that the article was too long? Montanabw(talk) 23:29, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
I think a couple hundred words that sum up his enormous impact on national economic policy is in order. The way the Civil war was financed and its impact on US economic history (tariffs, national banks, taxes, railroads etc) is of enormous importance to historians, of course. That is the main thrust of the Current biography & is well covered by the other bios. Richardson is especially detailed with 50+ pages that link to Stevens. Anbinder says, "Trefousse's work will certainly and deservedly become the :standard" biography of its subject." [Reviews Am Hist vol 26 #3 The article was too long on minor details of his early life, which crowded out his legislative roles. Rjensen (talk) 23:59, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Some of the material may be useful in some form, my concerns were basically 1) Redundancy, 2) quality of sources, 3) Tone/quality of writing, and to a lesser extent, 4) if not redundant, then is it relevant and if so, HOW relevant? But as Wehwalt is lead editor here, I'll step back and see what shakes out in the substantive discussion. Montanabw(talk) 00:07, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
I am acutely aware of the need for concentration on the stuff people are interested in about Stevens; roughly half the article is about the final tenth of his life. I have been ill and not up to active editing, but I hope to get back in the swing of things in the next couple of days and will look through all of this and strive to address everyone's concerns. We have a FAC ongoing that I would like to, er, go on. If disagreements can't be bridged, though, I will yank it. I have six or seven coin articles waiting for their shot at FAC.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:53, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
I have mostly kept the text as I found it today, tough I made a fair number of stylistic changes. I'd be grateful if everyone would strive to match the existing formatting, especially on references, and be careful to avoid ambiguation (Donald's books, for example, I had to go in and check to make sure which one was meant). I am out of time for right now and will continue work possibly later and certainly tomorrow, also working through the source comments at the FAC. I think I agree that "leading biographer" might be better put as "most recent major biographer". I need to read the whole article over again and I don't have time right now.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:05, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
Hey all, the article is looking great. A coupla small comments/questions:
  • The reason for including quotation text in a footnote is that some people might not be able to scale the JStor paywall. That shouldn't disqualify the source, but it can be useful to provide a snippet for the curious everyday reader. Also it can help to locate the relevant part of text.
  • "Freedpeople" is a newer usage, with "freedmen" most popular at the time. "Freed slaves" might not be the best term since the people in question were legally no longer legally slaves (though surely we've used all three, and really the three terms can all be used, with difference nuances). "Freedpeople" is generally a newer usage, but so is "black" in place of "Negro", which people seem to prefer. "Freedpeople" is the best way to refer to the group of African-descended men and women who were formally emancipated. "Freedmen" is probably the second choice.
  • The quotation about forty acres being better than the vote might make more sense in the Freedmen's Bureau paragraph than in the 14th Amendment paragraph—especially since the discussion of voting rights & A14 passage has been deleted.
  • Speaking of which, does anyone else think it's really interesting that compromises on suffrage were the main source of Stevens' disappointment on A14? (Before looking into it we thought he might have been more upset about the state action doctrine.) Maybe it's worth a footnote?
  • Does anyone know more about the Omnibus Reconstruction Bill and Stevens's stance on it??
Peace, groupuscule (talk) 05:12, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
On JSTOR: any person can read a limited number of articles free. Active Wiki editors can get a free account. Hundreds of millions of students have free access though their schools. And everyone can see the first page of the JSTOR article. Rjensen (talk) 05:35, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Agree with all of your statements, but it's still true that most people in our target audience (all human beings, or at least all literate anglophones) will have some difficulty obtaining the full text of a JStor article. Access to JStor is also likely to be stratified by class, race, and country of residence. And it seems that a short quotation makes things easier for everybody, even those who do have easy access. We're not insisting that the quotations be kept but we're explaining a rationale. groupuscule (talk) 06:49, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Actually, there are a lot of JSTOR articles a non-subscriber can NOT get full text for free, only partial. Just saying. Montanabw(talk) 16:02, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Can we put this on hold until after the FAC closes? Incidentally, as of right now, it is very difficult for an unaffiliated en.wp editor to get access, as there is a considerable wait list. I have access through a local library. Which Reconstruction bill do you refer to, Groupuscule? a date would be helpful.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:11, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. My own practice when I've had something at FAC and new info comes along (not "new" here, but same point) is that unless it's pretty minor, I usually sandbox changes in my userspace or at a subpage of talk, and then add them after the FAC closes. Perhaps this discussion could go into a sandbox? (I almost accidentally derailed my own FAC of William Robinson Brown by adding new material to it during the FAC -- luckily the reviewers had mercy.) Montanabw(talk) 16:02, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
My personal practice, incidentally, is to only include a quote in the citation (usually as a hidden comment) if the citation is startling or highly opinionated, and really it is more to justify it to reviewers than to the public. A lot of the stuff in this article is based on materials which are not online. If we are to start including lengthy quotes simply because it is on JSTOR, which is more available than some of the books used as refs, I think that should be a policy change at a higher level. We have a manual of style to keep articles more or less consistent despite the wide variety of editors who contribute here. As for freedmen, it gets 1.2 million ghits vs. less than 100,000 for freedpeople, which my autocorrect just separated into two words and then underlined in red when I insisted. I do not think the term is prevalent enough to use in preference to the more venerable term, especially when the article is speckled with references to the "Freedmen's Bureau". And if you notice, the article never uses black as a noun, because it is objected to by one of the reviewers, which I think it is more a Brit thing, but I'm reluctant to object.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:55, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
And on another note, if we are going to keep inserting additional stuff to make people happy, I'd like to pound the table for Lincoln's story about Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. People are interested in the Lincoln-Stevens relationship and the film interested people in Lincoln's stories. Again, I don't totally want to play to the audience, but to a certain extent in an article intended for the public you have to satisfy their expectations, and the Lincoln-Stevens relationship is a subject of public interest. This article doesn't get ten thousand hits a week because people want to know about his advocacy for education.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:18, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
My thinking is that we, the "usual suspects," should sit tight on adding anything pending the FAC. If a reviewer thinks we are missing something, then that would be a serious discussion here. However, the above material is sort of nibbling around the edges and tweaking nuance, which doesn't seem particularly critical at this point. IMHO. Montanabw(talk) 16:02, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Accepted wisdom[edit]

"Thaddeus was born with a club foot, at the time seen as a judgment from God for secret parental sin—and his older brother was born with the condition in both feet."

This reads as if this was a widely accepted medical view of that date, rather than a widespread superstition. The reason is that you have given a time factor ("at that date") rather than locating the belief within a culture or religious community. The words "at that time" need replacing with something else, perhaps relating more closely to his family's religious beliefs.

Amandajm (talk) 02:24, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

There weren't a lot of proclaimed atheists in rural Vermont at that time, I suspect. Do you have language that you propose, based on the source?--Wehwalt (talk) 09:28, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Stevens' relations[edit]

I tried cleaning up Lydia Hamilton Smith's page yesterday, which brought up a problem on both their pages. The original version said Stevens died with Smith and his two nephews at his bedside, and initially I assumed they were the two nephews he raised. However, when I looked at Stevens' article, it turns out that one of the nephews they jointly raised (and who had operated Caledonia Forge) died during the battle of Chickamauga. Since the other man's name was Simon Stevens, either he was another nephew, or (to my 20th century viewpoint) someone Stevens adopted for inheritance or other personal purposes. Any clarifications? I have no time to access the written sources listed, nor consult genealogical sources, much less Stevens' will and subsequent legal controversy. Also, I thought about adding something to this page about the Stevens society meeting at his grave annually near his date of death, but didn't quickly see how that fit in, nor consult the Edgar Allen Poe page to see its treatment of a similar situation.Jweaver28 (talk) 15:36, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Simon Stevens was not a relation. Let me look into it.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:08, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Either it's a typo or the intent was to refer to Simon. I've clarified. Thank you for catching that.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:26, 6 April 2014 (UTC)