Simon Cameron -- Honesty
When Thaddeus Stevens complained to President Lincoln about high prices in some
war contracts reflecting adversely on Secretary of War Simon Cameron, Lincoln said:
"Why, Mr. Stevens, you don't think the Secretary would steal, do you?" The Old
Commoner answered, "Well, Mr. President, I don't think he would steal a red-hot
Lincoln liked the joke so much he told it to Cameron, who didn't like it and demanded
that Stevens retract it. Stevens went immediately to Lincoln and told him: "I said I did
not think Mr. Cameron would steal a red-hot stove. I am now forced to withdraw that
statement." Great Leveler, by Thomas Frederick Woodley, page 304.
Later, Lincoln removed Cameron as Secretary of War and appointed him ambassador
to Russia. This prompted Stevens to wisecrack, "Send word to the Czar to bring in his
things at night." The Whirlwind of War, Stephen B. Oates, page 114
James Buchanan -- Beyond Belief
"There is a wrong impression about one of the candidates. There is no such person
running as James Buchanan. He is dead of lockjaw. Nothing remains but a platform and
a bloated mass of political putridity." Campaign speech in 1856, The Selected Papers of
Thaddeus Stevens, Vol. 1, by Beverly Wilson Palmer and Holly Byers Ochoa, page 154.
"I know it has been suggested that the President [Buchanan] intentionally left those forts
in a defenseless condition, that South Carolina might seize them before his successor
[Lincoln] had time to take means for their safety. I cannot believe it; I will not believe it,
for it would make Mr. Buchanan a more odious traitor than Benedict Arnold. Every
drop of blood that shall be shed in the conflict would sit heavy on his soul forever,"
Speech in Congress, January 29, 1861, The Selected Papers of Thaddeus Stevens, Vol.
1, by Beverly Wilson Palmer and Holly Byers Ochoa, page 193.
Andrew Johnson And God
In his continuing battles with President Andrew Johnson, friends of the President went
to Stevens and tried to convince him that Johnson was not such a bad fellow. They
particularly pointed out that, like Stevens himself, Johnson was a self-made man.
Stevens answered: "I never thought of it that way, but it does relieve God Almighty of a
heavy responsibility." Thaddeus Stevens, Thomas Frederick Woodley, page 557.