The Thaddeus Stevens Society has contracted with Alex Paul Loza of Chattanooga, TN to sculpt a statue of Thaddeus Stevens, one of the greatest statesmen in United States history.
Stevens, who lived from 1792 to 1868, was the most powerful congressman during and after the Civil War and was instrumental in freeing the slaves and then trying to protect them after the war. He is also the father of the 14th Amendment, the single most important Constitutional amendment requiring equal treatment under the law and extending civil liberties to the state level.
“This is a giant step in honoring a man who did so much for the state of Pennsylvania and the nation,” said Ross Hetrick, president of the Stevens Society. “The statue will be a magnificent work capturing the spirit of the Great Commoner.” he said.
The $55,000, 6-foot bronze statue is expected to be completed in late 2021 or early 2022, in time for its dedication in April 2022, which will also mark the 230th birthday of Stevens. When completed, the sculpture will be only the second Stevens statue in existence. The first statue is at the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster. The Stevens Society is currently investigating various locations for the statue in Gettysburg.
“My goal with the monument is to highlight Stevens’s determination and never-ending stance to fight for the less fortunate,” said sculptor Loza. “To visually and emotionally communicate this message I decided to place his body weight on his club foot and walking stick while his right foot is set to take another step forward. His left hand clings to his cane to reinforce his drive to always move onward, while the other hand is very close to his heart protecting and holding his legacy, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.” he said.
Loza, 41, is a native of Lima, Peru, and has lived in Tennessee since August 2010. A graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago, he has 20 years of experience in using clay and paint to immortalize people and their stories. His goal is to bring diverse communities together and reveal theprofound inter-connectedness of all people. He was selected as the sculptor after a nation-wide search that involved 20 submissions.
Franklin County connects to Thaddeus Stevens through the Caledonia Ironworks, now Caledonia State Park. The Franklin County Visitors Bureau worked with research historian Randy Harris on a successful application to the National Park Service to designated Caledonia as a NPS Network to Freedom site. More information on Thaddeus Stevens and the South Mountain Underground Railroad activity can be viewed here.