Lydia Hamilton Smith ( - ). from Wikipedia. Thaddeus Stevens never married though his year relationship () with his. And before long, [Thaddeus Stevens] obtained the services of a housekeeper, Lydia Hamilton Smith, a mulatto widow of great respectability with two children. The unsung hero of the 's was Thaddeus Stevens ( ) of Lancaster , The Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site . exact relationship exists, historians have speculated that Smith was Steven's.
Lydia Hamilton Smith
And he fought the state Constitution ofwhich took away from black males the right to vote. Thaddeus Stevens moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in and purchased property there in the early s. He built a small addition connecting a saloon on Queen Street and his residence, and that is where he created his law office.
Stevens, whom Lydia Smith and her mother had known when he was an attorney and abolitionist in Gettysburg, offered her a position as his housekeeper in Lancaster. InLydia moved her two boys to Lancaster to work for Stevens.
Lydia Hamilton Smith | Civil War Women
She learned quickly how to manage a household with staff, as well as how to manage the household finances.
Lydia served as Stevens' housekeeper, property manager and confidante for twenty years. Their partnership afforded her the opportunity to gain the skills and social contacts that helped her later become a successful businesswoman.
Stevens lived in the main house with his two orphaned nephews, Alanson and Thaddeus, whom they raised together, and who both later served in the Union Army. Lydia lived in "a one-story frame house on the rear of Mr. Both Smith and Stevens were believed to have been involved in the antislavery movement while they lived in Lancaster.
There is no proof that an underground cistern behind the Stevens home was used in the Underground Railroad, but a number of archaeologists who have visited the cistern discovered on the property have confirmed its probable use as a hideaway for runaway slaves.
The fugitives might have been delivered in barrels to the tavern next door, which Stevens also owned, and hidden in the cistern until they could be passed on to another station. There is ample documentation that Stevens regularly assisted black fugitives and paid spies to report on slave catchers active in the area. While less definitive information exists on Smith's role in the Underground Railroad, research is continuing.
However, the nature of their partnership, the proximity of her home to the cistern, and her connections in the local African-American community offer tantalizing clues. While it was widely rumored during Stevens' lifetime and afterward that he and Lydia were lovers, no evidence exists to support that. Stevens' only comment on the matter was deliberately ambiguous: In any case, Stevens treated Lydia with great respect.
He always addressed her as Madam, gave her his seat in public conveyances, and included her in social occasions with his friends. He hired Jacob Eichholtz to paint her portrait - an unusual sign of respect for a white lawyer to show a black housekeeper. House of Representatives as an anti-slavery Whig, representing Lancaster County between and He opposed the Fugitive Slave Law and the Compromise of Lydia accompanied Stevens on his trips to Washington, DC, and was included in Stevens' social gatherings.
When the new, anti-slavery Republican Party formed in the mids, Stevens helped organize it in Pennsylvania. Stevens rode the Republican Party into Congress again in He was renominated every two years thereafter throughoften running unopposed. As a passionate believer in the principles of Radical Republicanism, the Great Commoner, as he was known, pushed for emancipation and black suffrage.
The Radicals "were primarily responsible for turning the struggle into a war not only to preserve the Union but also to extinguish slavery. She also purchased property in Washington, DC. Lydia Smith's oldest son William died in Colored Troops in He and his regiment served primarily in Virginia.
No evidence exists as to the exact nature of the relationship between Stevens and Smith. In the one brief surviving letter from Stevens to her, he addresses her as "Mrs. Smith", unusual deference to an African-American servant in that era.
Family members also asked Stevens to be remembered to "Mrs. Stevens" by people who knew her. Recent excavation of their house in Lancaster unearthed a cistern with a passageway to a nearby tavern, as well as a spittoon inside, which some historians think was used to shelter escaping slaves.
Thaddeus Stevens, Relationship with Lydia Hamilton Smith (Trefousse, ) | House Divided
During and after the Battle of Gettysburg inSmith hired a horse and wagon, and collected food and supplies for the wounded of both sides from neighbors in Adams, York and Lancaster counties and delivered them to the makeshift hospitals.
After Stevens' death inin addition to buying his house in Lancaster, Smith operated a prosperous boarding house across from the Willard Hotel in Washington, D. Lydia Hamilton Smith died in Washington on her 71st birthday inand per her wishes was buried in St.
Mary's Catholic cemetery in Lancaster,  although she also left money for the continued upkeep of Stevens' grave at the Shreiner-Concord cemetery.