Thaddeus Stevens, by John Sartain, 1835.
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Black and white image of a portrait of Stevens seated, holding a book.

Credit: Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Though best known today for his opposition to slavery, Thaddeus Stevens earned his early fame as a stalwart champion of public education. His February 1835 defense of free public schools in Pennsylvania is credited with saving the fledgling system from certain defeat.

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