|The Wit & Wisdom of
|Compiled by Ross Hetrick
Illustrated by Wayne A. Brown
Copyrighted by Ross Hetrick, 2001
He Was Just Too Funny
Besides being the most powerful congressman during the Civil War, Thaddeus Stevens
may also have been the funniest. As the Old Commoner relentlessly pursued his goals of
freedom for the slaves and public education, he left behind a string of jokes and wry
comments that would do a modern stand-up comedian proud.
Stevens's humor was far different from another famous humorous politician of his time
-- Abraham Lincoln. Whereas Lincoln's humor was homespun and frankly corny,
Stevens's was sharp and sarcastic. His was not only meant to amuse, but also devastate.
And some of the targets of his wit would have dearly loved to see Stevens's head on the
chopping block, as depicted in a portion of a Thomas Nast cartoon above.
The jokes and observations in this booklet were culled from a variety of books on
Thaddeus Stevens. I have deviated from the original explanatory text to provide a
common writing style. But all the Stevens quotes are exactly as they were from the
sources. I also received help from Hans Trefousse and Beverly Wilson Palmer in
steering me to the quotes that I had come across years ago only to forget where I saw
them. The wonderful drawings are by Wayne A. Brown, a talented Gettysburg artist.
Ross Hetrick, president of the Thaddeus Stevens Society, November 2001