Thaddeus Stevens Portrait awaits Statehouse

The etching of Stevens was struck from an original plate that is held by a historical preservation organization in Pennsylvania. Stevens, who is credited with the Civil Rights amendment to the Constitution was born in Danville and educated in Peacham before setting up his law practice in Gettysburg. Though he has been vilified by some for his radical Republican stance during reconstruction, he was an extraordinary visionary.

By Sharon Lakey, Director

On October 30, 2011, the Thaddeus Stevens portrait was unveiled at a ceremony held in the Danville Congregational Church.

There were hitches in the day’s plan—Ross Hetrick, the main speaker, was on the road all night in a freak snowstorm that buried Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. David Schutz, who was to accept the portrait as curator of the Vermont Statehouse, had an emergency family issue and couldn’t attend.

There were also wonderful things that happened that day: the audience was treated to sunshine pouring into the church;  the pipe organ and organist, Jen Larrabee, filled the sanctuary with sound; Paul Chouinard graciously emceed the proceedings; Toby Balivet, Town Parliamentarian, gave one of his thoughtful invocations; the Pumpkin Hill Singers shared two period songs, beautifully harmonic; David Hare, dressed in Hemlock uniform and his helper, a Danville Cub Scout, unveiled the portrait; Ross, in spite of the onset of a cold, delivered a rousing speech about Thaddeus; and then , after group singing, all retired to the dining area to a repast courtesy of volunteer bakers and the Passumpsic Saving Bank.

Stevens has been vilified by some historians for his Radical Republican stance during the Reconstruction period. But he was a man of strong ideals and his stance was for the equality of all humanity. Click here for a link to President Paul Chouinard’s article on him entitled, Old Commoner.

Recently, a visitor to the Historical House stood before the portrait, holding a paper up so that only his eyes were showing.  “He looks angry,” she said. I must admit,  if not angry, he definitely looks resolute! The portrait will be at the House until it is accepted at a reception at the Statehouse during the upcoming session. Drop by and have a look at Vermont’s native son, who has had an enduring affect on America.

For a photo album of the event, courtesy of Jim Ashley, click here.

For a video of the event, recorded by Ross Hetrick, President of the Thaddeus Stevens Society, click here.

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