Lydia Hamilton Smith (February 14, 1813 – February 14, 1884) was the long-time housekeeper of Thaddeus Stevens and a prominent African-American businesswoman after his death.
Thaddeus Stevens was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania and one of the leaders of the Radical Republican faction of the Republican Party during the 1860s. A fierce opponent of slavery and discrimination against African-Americans, Stevens sought to secure their rights during Reconstruction, in opposition to U.S. President Andrew Johnson. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee during the American Civil War, he played a leading role, focusing his attention on defeating the Confederacy, financing the war with new taxes and borrowing, crushing the power of slave owners, ending slavery, and securing equal rights for the Freedmen.
Lydia Hamilton was born at Russell Tavern near Gettysburg in Adams County, Pennsylvania, US. She was one quarter African American in that her mother was a free biracial woman of white and African American descent, and her father was Irish. Smith married a free black man, Jacob Smith (died 1852), with whom she had two sons.
Gettysburg is a borough and the county seat of Adams County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg (1863) and President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address are named for this town. The town hosts visitors to the Gettysburg National Battlefield in the Gettysburg National Military Park. As of the 2010 census, the borough had a population of 7,620 people.
Adams County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 101,407. Its county seat is Gettysburg. The county was created on January 22, 1800, from part of York County, and was named for the second President of the United States, John Adams. On July 1–3, 1863, the area around Gettysburg was the site of the pivotal battle of the American Civil War, and as a result is a center for Civil War tourism.
Separated from her husband, Smith moved to Lancaster with her mother and sons in 1847 and accepted a position as housekeeper to prominent lawyer and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, who had moved from Gettysburg five years earlier but practiced law and had business interest in several counties in the Susquehanna River basin. Stevens was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives the following year, and Smith continued to keep the bachelor's house (including his house in Washington, D.C.) until Stevens died in 1868.
The Susquehanna River is a major river located in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States. At 444 miles (715 km) long, it is the longest river on the East Coast of the United States that drains into the Chesapeake Bay. With its watershed, it is the 16th-largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the early 21st-century continental United States without commercial boat traffic.
Smith was described as "giving great attention to her appearance," and in later years she had her clothes made to resemble those of Mary Lincoln.Carl Sandburg described Smith as "a comely quadroon with Caucasian features and a skin of light-gold tint, a Roman Catholic communicant with Irish eyes ... quiet, discreet, retiring, reputed for poise and personal dignity."
Carl August Sandburg was an American poet, biographer, journalist, and editor. He won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Sandburg was widely regarded as "a major figure in contemporary literature", especially for volumes of his collected verse, including Chicago Poems (1916), Cornhuskers (1918), and Smoke and Steel (1920). He enjoyed "unrivaled appeal as a poet in his day, perhaps because the breadth of his experiences connected him with so many strands of American life", and at his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that "Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America."
Historically in the context of slave societies of the Americas, a quadroon or quarteron was a person with one quarter African and three quarters European ancestry.
The Caucasian race is a grouping of human beings historically regarded as a biological taxon, which, depending on which of the historical race classifications is used, has usually included ancient and modern populations from Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.
Smith had two sons, William and Isaac, by her late husband, Jacob Smith. She and Stevens also raised the latter's nephews, whom he adopted in the 1840s.On April 2, 1861 Smith's oldest son, William Smith, fatally shot himself while handling a pistol at Stevens' home, as his mother watched. William Smith was 26 years old and worked as a shoemaker in Lancaster. Her other son, Isaac Smith, a banjo player and barber, enlisted in the 6th United States Colored Infantry Regiment in 1863 and served in Virginia.
The 6th United States Colored Infantry Regiment was an African American unit of the Union Army during the American Civil War. A part of the United States Colored Troops, the regiment saw action in Virginia as part of the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign and in North Carolina, where it participated in the attacks on Fort Fisher and Wilmington and the Carolinas Campaign.
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. Smith."Nonetheless, during her time with Stevens, neighbors considered her his common law wife. Smith not only handled social functions for the politician, she also mingled with Stevens' guests, who were instructed to address her as "Madame" or "Mrs. Smith." Opposition newspapers (for Stevens' views concerning racial equality were quite controversial) claimed she was frequently called "Mrs. Stevens" by people who knew her.
Common-law marriage, also known as sui iuris marriage, informal marriage, marriage by habit and repute, or marriage in fact, is a legal framework in a limited number of jurisdictions where a couple is legally considered married, without that couple having formally registered their relation as a civil or religious marriage.
Smith was at Stevens's bedside when he died in Washington, D.C. on August 11, 1868, along with his friend Simon Stevens and surviving nephew (Thaddeus Stevens Jr.), two African American nuns, and several other people.Under Stevens' will, Smith was allowed to choose between a lump sum of $5,000 or a $500 annual allowance; she was also allowed to take any furniture in his house. With the inheritance, Smith purchased Stevens' house and the adjoining lot.
Stevens and Smith were active in the Underground Railroad, which led to the burning of his ironworks, Caledonia Furnace, during the Civil War. 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.Smith bought her house in Lancaster next to Stevens' house in 1860. During and after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, Smith 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 in 1868, in addition to buying his house in Lancaster, Smith operated a prosperous boarding house across from the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., as well as invested in real estate and other business ventures.
Lydia Hamilton Smith died in Washington on her 71st birthday in 1884, and 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.
In Steven Spielberg's 2012 film Lincoln , Smith was portrayed by actress S. Epatha Merkerson.
The Gettysburg Address is a speech that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the American Civil War at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. It is one of the best-known speeches in American history.
Mary Augusta Ward was a British novelist who wrote under her married name as Mrs Humphry Ward. She worked to improve education for the poor and she became the founding President of the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League.
Mary Todd Lincoln was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and as such the First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865. She dropped the name Ann after her younger sister, Ann Todd (Clark), was born, and did not use the name Todd after marrying.
The Radical Republicans were a faction of American politicians within the Republican Party of the United States from around 1854 until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. They called themselves "Radicals", with a goal of immediate, complete, permanent eradication of slavery, without compromise. They were opposed during the War by the moderate Republicans, by the conservative Republicans, and by the pro-slavery and anti-Reconstruction Democratic Party as well as by conservatives in the South and liberals in the North during Reconstruction. Radicals led efforts after the war to establish civil rights for former slaves and fully implement emancipation. After weaker measures in 1866 resulted in violence against former slaves in the rebel states, Radicals pushed the Fourteenth Amendment and statutory protections through Congress. They disfavored allowing ex-Confederates officers to retake political power in the South, and emphasized equality, civil rights and voting rights for the "freedpeople", i.e. people who had been enslaved by state slavery laws within the United States.
The heterosexuality of Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), the 16th President of the United States, has been questioned by some activists. Lincoln was married to Mary Todd from November 4, 1842, until his death on April 15, 1865, and fathered four children with her.
General James Watson Webb was a United States diplomat, newspaper publisher and a New York politician in the Whig and Republican parties.
The Bixby letter is a brief, consoling message sent by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1864 to Lydia Parker Bixby, a widow living in Boston, Massachusetts, who was thought to have lost five sons in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Along with the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address, the letter has been praised as one of Lincoln's finest written works and is often reproduced in memorials, media, and print.
Anthony Ellmaker Roberts, was an American politician, member of the United States House of Representatives from 1855 to 1859, an abolitionist and close associate of Thaddeus Stevens.
Alfred Francis Russell was an Americo-Liberian missionary, planter and politician. Elected as vice-president of Liberia in 1881 under Anthony William Gardiner, he succeeded to the presidency after the latter resigned due to poor health. Russell served as tenth President of Liberia from 1883 to 1884.
Marin Sais was an American actress whose career was most prolific during the silent film era of the 1910s and 1920s. Sais' acting career spanned over four decades and she is possibly best recalled for appearing in Western themed films.
Edward McPherson was a Pennsylvania newspaper editor and politician who served two terms in the United States House of Representatives, as well as multiple terms as the Clerk of the House of Representatives. As a director of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, he effected efforts to protect and mark portions of the Gettysburg Battlefield.
The Lancaster County Convention Center (LCCC) is a publicly owned convention center in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. With initial site preparation in late 2006 and completion in the summer of 2009, the Lancaster County Convention Center is one of several projects intended to help revitalize downtown Lancaster.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was a former slave who became a successful seamstress, civil activist, and author in Washington, DC. She was best known as the personal modiste and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, the First Lady. Keckley had moved to Washington in 1860 after buying her freedom and that of her son in St. Louis. She created an independent business in the capital based on clients who were the wives of the government elite. Among them were Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis; and Mary Anna Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee.
David Wills was the principal figure in the establishment of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As a result of his efforts, the Gettysburg Address was given by Abraham Lincoln. Wills was Lincoln's host while in Gettysburg, and the Gettysburg Address was completed in the large upstairs bedroom occupied by the President during his brief stay in the town.
Ruth Donnelly was an American stage and film actress.
There is speculation over the existence of ghosts from the American Civil War. Among the locales that have become famous for Civil War ghosts are the Sharpsburg battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland; Chickamauga battlefield in Georgia; Harper's Ferry, West Virginia; Buras, Louisiana; and Warren, Arkansas.
Lincoln is a 2012 historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. The film also features Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Tommy Lee Jones in supporting performances.