A Crucial Part Of Adams County Heritage
Thaddeus Stevens, a famous abolitionist and education advocate, lived in Gettysburg from 1816 to 1842, and was an important shaper of Adams county heritage.
As a prominent attorney, Stevens served for six years on Gettysburg borough council in the 1820s. He helped establish the first public library in 1822 and worked to create a local water system. He was then elected to the state legislature in 1834, where he immediately championed the fledgling Gettysburg College (then called Pennsylvania College) and had $18,000 appropriated for the college's first building -- Pennsylvania Hall -- which still stands today. In 1835 he went on to greater fame as the Savior of Public Education in Pennsylvania, with a stirring speech that turned back a repeal effort of the new state school system.
He also provided jobs for hundreds of local residents by establishing iron furnaces in Fairfield and then at his Caledonia operation, near Chambersburg. The location of the second mill is now a state park enjoyed by thousands each year. Even after he moved to Lancaster in 1842, he maintained his Gettysburg ties and as a member of the college's board of trustees, prevented Gettysburg College from moving to another city in 1854.
As a congressman from Lancaster, he helped to shape the heritage of the entire nation by helping to abolish slavery, protecting newly freed blacks and changing the very structure of our country with the passage of the Fourteen Amendment, which guarantees equal rights and extends civil rights to the state level.
Through out his life, Stevens remained true to his dream of a country, where "no distinction would be tolerated in this purified republic but what arose from merit and conduct."
To learn more about Thaddeus Stevens, visit the the Thaddeus Stevens Society web page at;