Thad's last days were not happy ones. Too sick to go home, he remained in Washington, wracked with pain and, during the final week, in early August, no longer able to leave his house. In addition, he had financial worries; the Caledonia Forge was not doing well, and efforts to sell it brought about constant difficulties with his partners Daniel V. and Peter Ahl, who, when the relationship was finally ended, still owed money, which Daniel paid only infrequently. John Sweney and Thaddeus Jr., who managed the works, had no end of trouble with him. 1
That the Commoner was failing rapidly was clear to all observers. He had long been under the care of his friend, the Lancaster physician Henry Carpenter, who had given him precise prescriptions for his increasing weakness, especially for his stomach problems and the dropsy. 2 But he did not improve, and as one observer described his activities during his last session in the House, "He spoke for about ten minutes, at first with notable difficulty. Nearly the entire house gathered into the aisle and areas within twenty-five feet of him. Of the first half of his remarks not a word was heard in the galleries. Then like a candle dying in its socket he flared up with an energy that carried his utterances to the remotest corner of the chamber. It was a wonderful exhibition of will and determination. It could not last. The physical forces of the old body have gone away, and three or four minutes completely exhausted it and dropped Mr. Stevens back into his chair paler and more emaciated, seemingly, than before." Yet he was still making plans to visit Peacham, only to be felled by a severe bout of diarrhea shortly after the adjournment of Congress. 3
In his house on Capitol Hill, he was well cared for by Mrs. Smith, who remained devoted to him despite the fact that he had thrown her son Isaac out of his Lancaster residence and forbidden him to reenter it. 4 Thaddeus Jr. also came to attend to his uncle, and his local physician, Dr. Noble Young, succeeded in checking his affliction for a short time. On August 9, the Sunday
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Publication information: Book title: Thaddeus Stevens:Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian. Contributors: Hans L. Trefousse - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 239.
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