People Who Inspire You

Facebook recently updated the way profiles look and added a few cool new features. On such feature is a section on your profile, under the philosophy section, called “People Who Inspire You”. I find it interesting that they would put people who inspire you under philosophy and not under interests. I believe this to be appropriate as people who inspire us tend to have an increased influence over our philosophy.

Upon the discovery of this section I quickly entered a few of the people who inspire me. Here they are in no particular order.

  • John Adams
  • James Madison
  • William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • Edmund Burke
  • Mother Teresa
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Ghandi
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Thaddeus Stevens
  • John McCain
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Theodore Roosevelt

And while several of these people wouldn’t like to be on a list with the others I find them all to be inspirational in their own way.

Two that I would like to briefly highlight are Susan B. Anthony and Thaddeus Stevens.

Susan B. Anthony

Anthony a leader in the Women’s suffrage movement is a person I admire because of her unwavering support for an idea that she believed in even though she believed she wasn’t qualified to be a leader. In studying Anthony and the Women’s suffrage movement I have become more convinced of the necessity of political involvement and especially involvement in the Republican party.

On November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested by a U.S. Deputy Marshal for voting illegally in the 1872 Presidential Election two weeks earlier. She had written to Stanton on the night of the election that she had “positively voted the Republican ticket—straight…”. She was tried and convicted seven months later, despite the stirring and eloquent presentation of her arguments that the recently adopted Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” the privileges of citizenship, and which contained no gender qualification, gave women the constitutional right to vote in federal elections.

The ticket she voted for was that of Ulysses S. Grant and running mate Henry Wilson. The Republican party platform at the time made one of the first mentions of “universal suffrage” all though it wasn’t until August 18, 1920 that the 19th amendment was ratified recognizing a woman’s right to vote. Ironically as a subnote it was Democrat president Woodrow Wilson who supported the amendment but regressed on the issue of segregation in the United States (especcially for government employees) saying, “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

Thaddeus Stevens

But back to the election of 1872. One of the major players in that election was Thaddeus Stevens. Steven’s was the house leader of the “Radical Republicans”, a segment of the Republican party that favored universal suffrage and a greater degree of emancipation and reconciliation for the previous confederate states. It was Stevens and the group of Radical Republicans who had passed the civil rights act of 1866 which was vetoed by then Democrat President Andrew Jackson who in turn had his veto overridden by the Republicans.

Steven’s was more than just an ardent abolitionist and fighter for equality. As the chairman of the house ways and means committee he fought for and impacted reforms in America’s financial system, although not all of the reforms happened he did succeed in financing the Civil War. Steven’s also had an impact on education. While a Pennsylvania legislature he worked for the free education law in 1834, some say it was his oratory skills that passed that law. He also worked for a constitutional limit on State debt and refused to sign the new state constitution in 1834 because it did not allow black citizens to vote.

When Steven’s died he was buried in the Shreiner Concord cemetery because it was the only cemetery at the time that allowed people to be buried without regard to their race. Steven’s also penned the inscription for his headstone.

“I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator.”

Stevens dreamed of a socially just world, where unearned privilege did not exist. He believed from his personal experience that being different or having a different perspective can enrich society. He believed that differences among people should not be feared or oppressed but celebrated.

Anthony and Stevens, two people who believed in the ideas of equality and freedom and who didn’t live to see their work come to full fruition. These are two people that inspire me.

This has been another in a series of “ruminations“, half formed thought regurgitated via a blog to stimulate thought, discussion and the eventual assimilation of the best ideas.


  1. Shane Anderson says

    Thaddeus Stevens and Susan B. Anthony were trailblazers in their own time and truely great leaders. However, there is one thing to note regarding your political preference today being based on the party affiliations to these individuals in the 19th century. The Republican Party, especially the “radical republicans” more closely align with the contemporary Democrats of today. The two parties essentially traded ideological philosophies over the course of the century. It started after the Civil War and continued into the 20th century. Some major shifts would include Truman’s integration of the US military and LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act. The shift involved the changing views on the rights of the African American and women. The switch was final when the Democratic party shifted to support both of these. So if Lincoln were alive today, he would change parties.

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