Elsie Singmaster, one of the most famous novelists to come from Gettysburg, came to the defense of Thaddeus Stevens in 1943 when he was being vilified in a Hollywood film and then went on to write a book about the Great Commoner.

In 1942, MGM made a bio picture about President Andrew Johnson with an all-star cast of Van Heflin as Johnson, Ruth Hussey as his wife and Lionel Barrymore as his nemesis, Thaddeus Stevens. In keeping with the distorted picture of Stevens in those days, the movie portrayed him as a vindictive fanatic intent on punishing the South and getting Johnson removed from office. Singmaster would have none of it.

Ross Hetrick is president of the Thaddeus Stevens Society, which is dedicated to promoting Stevens’s important legacy. More information about the Great Commoner can be found at the society’s website: https://www.thaddeusstevenssociety.com/

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