Honoring a Vermont Hero

The Senate passed legislation, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, that would name the post office in Danville, Vt., after Thaddeus Stevens, the Vermont native who led the fight in Congress during the Civil War to abolish slavery.

Sanders sponsored the bill honoring Stevens after last year’s Academy Award-winning movie “Lincoln” revived interest in his important role in history.

In addition to leading the fight for passage of the 13th Amendment to end slavery, the progressive Republican who represented Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives also is credited with shepherding through Congress the 14th and 15th Amendments, which originally were intended to protect the rights of former slaves.

“Thaddeus Stevens became a fighter not only for civil rights and the abolition of slavery, but for low-income and working families throughout his entire life,” Sanders said. “He 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.”

“Renaming the post office in Danville after Thaddeus Stevens will help Vermonters and people throughout the country understand the important legislative battles won in the halls of Congress during the Civil War and Reconstruction-era. As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Stevens was one of the most powerful members of Congress during that crucial period of American history,” Sanders said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) cosponsored Sanders’ resolution in the Senate. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced identical legislation in the House of Representatives, where it is being considered by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The measure passed the Senate Aug. 1.

Sanders in May hosted a free showing of the movie in St. Johnsbury. More than 300 people attended the town meeting, which included student presentations and a panel discussion featuring two Vermont historians.