Bob Dylan, the troubadour to a generation and Nobel laureate is a great admirer of Thaddeus Stevens. In fact, you could say that Stevens inspired Dylan.

In his 2004 memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan wrote: “I read the biography of Thaddeus Stevens, the radical Republican. He lived in the early part of the 1800s and was quite a character. He’s from Gettysburg and he’s got a clubfoot like Byron. He grew up poor, made a fortune and from then on championed the weak and any other group who wasn’t able to fight equally. Stevens had a grim sense of humor, a sharp tongue and a white hot hatred for the bloated aristocrats of his day. He wanted to confiscate the land of the slaveholding elite, once referred to a colleague on the floor of the (House of Representatives) chamber as ‘slinking in his own slime.’ Stevens was an anti-Mason and he denounced his foes as those whose mouths reeked from human blood. He got right in there, called his enemies a ‘feeble band of lowly reptiles who shun the light and who lurk in their own dens.’ Stevens was hard to forget. He made a big impression on me, was inspiring.”

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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