Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) want to honor Pennsylvania Republican Congressman and abolitionist, Thaddeus Stevens. The Senators have asked the Postal Service committee that evaluates the merits of all stamp proposals to establish a commemorative postage stamp honoring Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.
Stevens served the people of Pennsylvania as a Member of the United States House of Representatives from 1849 to 1868 and played a key role in the abolition movement and the subsequent passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution. Additionally, Stevens was a staunch supporter of policy which stressed fiscal responsibility and debt limitation.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also signed the bi-partisan letter, which is provided below.
May 8, 2013
Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
c/o Stamp Development
United States Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501
Dear Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee:
We write to request that a commemorative stamp be issued to recognize the contributions of United States Representative Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868), who was a prolific legislator and played a key role in ending slavery. Stevens relentlessly pursued equal rights and freedom for the disadvantaged as a member of the House of Representatives during a tumultuous period in our nation's history. A commemorative stamp issued to honor Stevens would help people throughout the country understand the important legislative battles won in the halls of Congress in the Civil War-era.
The release of the movie "Lincoln" has brought newfound attention to Stevens, the Vermont-born congressman who fought for the passage of the 13th Amendment to end slavery. Stevens, a Republican who represented Pennsylvania in Congress, is also credited with shepherding the 14th and 15th Amendments through Congress. There is strong interest in Stevens' heritage by Pennsylvanians, Vermonters and people throughout the United States. Stevens, who has become known as the "Great Commoner," arguably had more impact on government and social change in the 19th century than any other person. Clearly, Stevens was a man who fought for his beliefs with considerable political skill.
Stevens served in the Pennsylvania legislature where he fought for a public education system. Stevens' dedication to free public education can be traced back to his childhood in Vermont where his mother emphasized the importance of education as a way to rise from poverty. Additionally, he was dedicated to sound fiscal policy, advocating and passing a constitutional limit on state debt.
In Congress, Stevens was adamant and unrelenting in pursuing bold legislation that would fulfill his belief in equality and social justice. In 1868, Sen. Justin Morrill of Vermont eulogized Stevens on the Senate floor. "Beneath a rugged exterior, Mr. Stevens had a heart that loved children, the downtrodden and the poor," Morrill said.
Thanks to a two-year effort, a portrait of Thaddeus Stevens hangs in the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vermont. A historical marker also honors his birthplace in Danville, Vermont. Likewise, buildings associated with Stevens, namely his home and law office, are being restored by the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with the goal of establishing a museum.
As we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, we believe honoring Stevens - and the bold legislation for which he fought -- with a commemorative U.S. stamp, would be a most appropriate action for the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to take.
PATRICK LEAHY, ROBERT P. CASEY, JR., BERNARD SANDERS, PATRICK TOOMEY