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Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian (Civil War America)

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  56 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
A biography of Stevens, from his early days as a Pennsylvania state legislator and outspoken advocate for black freedom and equality, to his long tenure in the House of Representatives and his involvement in the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Stackpole Books (first published June 1st 1997)
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Seamus Thompson
Jan 29, 2013 Seamus Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

5 stars for Thaddeus Stevens. 3-4 stars for Trefousse's biography: he deserves a huge amount of credit for being the first to finally re-evaluate Stevens. After decades of being vilified by Southern apologists, The Great Commoner finally gets something like the Life he deserves. Trefousse's writing is pretty standard academic fare: a bit dry but informative and well-documented.

About halfway through the book nearly every chapter ends with a line like "Stevens was too far ahead of his contemporar
...more
Colleen Browne
Aug 20, 2015 Colleen Browne rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, biography
Before writing this, I read several other reviews of the book to get a sense of the opinions of other people and found that I largely agree with many of them. The book was dry and factual. Facts are good but in order to make a book, or a life, interesting, it is imperative that the author fill in with analysis or other bits of information that bring the characters to life. Stevens was a larger than life figure and can stand on his own without Trefousse's help but his book cannot.

I have been sea
...more
Tsarina60
May 08, 2013 Tsarina60 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. Wonder why not more emphasis is placed on this individual in textbooks. I got interested in him after seeing the movie Lincoln. Had a hard time equating radical Republicanism of those times compared with our times. He stood up for all of the disenfranchised including Blacks, the poor, Mormons. A man truly ahead of his time. True to his values to the end. Wonder what he would have thought of the gay rights movement.
Riley
Oct 15, 2011 Riley rated it liked it
I just read a biography of Charles Sumner, so I wanted to also read one of Thaddeus Stevens, since in older, Southern-dominated, accounts they are the twin villains of the Union side of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Like Sumner, it is clear that Stevens was far ahead of his time, which makes the fact that they held leadership positions all the more remarkable. Unfortunately, author Hans Trefousse's writing doesn't work well for me, and there was some rough going along the way.

One passage I m
...more
Meaghan Gosling
Jun 29, 2013 Meaghan Gosling rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
If you want to know more about the inspiring politician that Tommy Lee Jones plays in Lincoln, this is your go to book. It is slow going, very dry and factual based, and delves into politics that our current climate does not have the background for, but learning about such a unique character from the Civil War period makes you want to keep wading, however slowly, through. It's not a page turner, and while the author does on occasion make some insinuations, it is not a gossipy, sensational book. ...more
Ken Giurlando
Oct 27, 2013 Ken Giurlando rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in Stevens home of Lancaster Pa this book made my town come alive to me. I live near James Buchanan's home and pass Steven's grave site every week. It is amazing how important Lancaster was during the civil war.
Linda
Apr 24, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Either this book is not really written very well, or I'm overwhelmed with the Medical Neuroscience class that I'm taking online and not really reading well. I do think it is the writer, though. He manages to use "howevers," "althoughs" and "in spite offs," etc. and then change the idea half-way through so you don't get a however, you get left hanging wondering how the rest of the sentence relates to the "however." There is interesting information in here - Stevens HATED secret societies like the ...more
Terry Bonner
Jan 24, 2013 Terry Bonner rated it it was ok
It takes considerable talent, of a sort, to render the eventful and significant life and bombastic character of Thaddeus Stevens into a two-dimensional cutout. In that respect, I must give Trefousse credit, because this biography is just about as exciting as a Mormon adult bookstore.

Oh, he has carefully researched the facts of Stevens' life and meticulously translated them into a chronological narrative. However, along the way, he has completely eviscerated any trace of the charisma and drive wh
...more
Jamie
Oct 09, 2012 Jamie rated it it was ok
Thaddeus Stevens was truly a remarkable man, a Republican congressman from Lancaster Pennsylvania who served during the civil war and reconstruction. Stevens was considered a member of the "radical republicans" because he believed in racial equality, universal suffrage, and equal protection under law for all people. Although these are principles that most people hold in today's socities, in the 1860's this put him on the fringe of the political spectrum with the likes of Charles Sumner, William ...more
Michael Mingo
In "Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth Century Egalitarian", Trefousse gives a thorough overview of his subject, crafting an extended narrative to flesh out Stevens' legislative accomplishments. I had known about Stevens' pioneering of 19th-century civil rights legislation, but Trefousse also drew my attention to Stevens' interest in inflationary economics and public education. Despite covering many facets of Stevens' career, the book never feels incoherent portraying its subject. However, Trefousse's ...more
Gaia
Oct 07, 2015 Gaia rated it it was amazing
I am very thankful for the extensive research conducted by the author to give readers this wonderful, factual account of Thaddeus Stevens, one of the greatest men in American history.

This book gives us the few known facts about his personal life, such as his family and
Christina Cater
I couldn't finish this book. I was diving deeper into discovering more about Thaddeus Stevens for personal reasons. The problem for me was that I was more interested in his personal life than his political life, but the personal details were brief. Obviously the personal impacts the political decisions made by Thaddeus, but I couldn't follow. Too much history for me once the book starts discussing his political career and decisions as an anti-masonic man. Thaddeus remains one of my greatest insp ...more
Beth
Jan 06, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it
Excellent account of T. Stevens influential life. After seeing the movie, Lincoln I wanted to learn more about Mr. Stevens to understand how he became the man and politician he was. The book had some answers as to how he came to his views on human rights, slavery and how he kept to his opinions despite ridicule and being way ahead of most others especially on equal rights issues. I enjoyed this book and it was a quick easy to read book.
Megan
Jul 18, 2009 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Didn't quite finish... definitely written for those with much greater familiarity with 19th century politics than I currently have - the author throws a lot of names out there about various congressmen, etc., without explaining who they are. Mostly, I came out with a list of 19th century pieces of legislation I should probably look up, and an interest in reading a more lively biography of Stevens.
Marty
Aug 01, 2014 Marty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative about a major player during the civil war and reconstruction. I did not give it 5 stars mainly because the writing was not the greatest (compare this to anything by David McCullough and it doesn't have nearly the same feel).
Troi
May 26, 2013 Troi rated it liked it
I was glad to read a little more about such a strong figure in 19th century politics, though I would have liked a little more insight into his psychology. I definitely came away with more of an understanding of what he stood for with respect to human rights and emancipation.
Jeanne
Feb 10, 2013 Jeanne rated it really liked it
Four stars for exhaustive detail.
Oliver Hodson
Sep 13, 2013 Oliver Hodson rated it really liked it
Great man great book
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