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'Lincoln,' Thaddeus Stevens and Why American Politics Still Needs Radicals

Stevens and compromise

As I understand it, the compromise Thaddeus Stevens made in supporting the Thirteenth Amendment was tactical and temporary. He believed, and said, that men (this was 1865) made laws, not angels. He was a skilled legislator who could move toward his goals one step at a time. He quickly moved on to sponsoring the Fourteenth Amendment, which would give the federal level some control over insuring that rights of citizens at the state level would be protected. He believed and stated that there was no reason to apologize for voting for an imperfect law that went as far as possible toward real equality, given the time and the circumstances. He was radical, but also realistic.

Owen Hodge

West Hartford, CT

Dec 13 2012 - 1:43pm