Danville, Vermont Post Office Named After Thaddeus Stevens
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 – Vermont’s congressional delegation today announced that Congress has passed a measure that will rename the post office in Danville after Thaddeus Stevens. The Vermont native led efforts in the Civil War-era to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery in the United States. The legislation will be sent to the president.
The Academy Award winning movie “Lincoln” provided a fresh look at Stevens’ role in fighting for the passage of the 13th Amendment to end slavery. Stevens is also credited with shepherding the 14th and 15th Amendments through Congress in the wake of the Civil War.
“Thaddeus Stevens was adamant and unrelenting in pursuing bold legislation that would fulfill his belief in equality and social justice. He was a true Vermont hero and someone that we should all learn more about,” the delegation said in a joint statement.
Stevens was born in Danville in 1792. He was elected to Congress seven times after moving to Pennsylvania, serving until his death in 1868. As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Stevens was one of the most powerful members of Congress during this period.
To honor Stevens and help Vermonters learn about his legacy, the Senate passed the legislation, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), in August 2013. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) led efforts to have the House pass the Senate legislation on a voice vote Monday afternoon. The bill, which renames Danville’s post office as the “Thaddeus Stevens Post Office,” will now be sent to the White House.
Stevens faced a series of challenges as a child. He was born with a club foot, which made it difficult to walk. Stevens’ own disability helped mold his passionate advocacy for those in need. As one of four children raised primarily by their mother, Stevens’ family struggled with poverty. His mother fought to make sure her children had a chance to obtain a good education and, in 1807, the future congressman’s mother moved from Danville to Peacham so her children could attend Caledonia County Grammar School, also known as Peacham Academy.
After moving to Pennsylvania, Stevens fought for a public education system in the state Legislature. His dedication to free public education can be traced back to the importance his mother placed on his own education as a way to rise from poverty.
Stevens was a man whose views were far ahead of his time. Just a few years after the end of slavery, and at a time when America was rigidly segregated by race, Stevens choose to be buried in an integrated cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The epitaph he composed for his tombstone speaks eloquently about his life-long commitment to social justice: “I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited by charter rules as to race, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator.”
David Carle: 202-224-3693
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