Green Infrastructure Adventure: Thaddeus Stevens’ Tomb

Shreiners Cemetery

Thaddeus Stevens

Thaddeus Stevens was the most influential leader of the Republican Party during the Civil War. When Stevens moved to Lancaster in 1843, he practiced law at his home office on South Queen Street.

Stevens was a champion for a free public school system in Pennsylvania and an abolitionist. In fact, his home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Archaeologists digging at his home in 2003 discovered a cistern with a patched hole in the wall. It connected to a tunnel and a patched doorway into an adjacent building. It is believed that the cistern was used as an emergency hiding place for fugitives.

Stevens was largely responsible for the pressure on Lincoln to make the emancipation of slavery a primary objective of the Civil War. He insisted on a post-war reconstruction policy that would prevent the South from regaining its former power in Congress.

Stevens was buried per his instructions in Lancaster’s Shreiners Cemetery. At the time, it was the only cemetery in the city with no restrictions for internment based on color or race.

Grave of Thaddeus Stevens

Stevens wrote the inscription for his own headstone. It reads:

I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator.

%d bloggers like this: