Griffith purportedly based Stoneman on real-life Pennsylvania Republican Thaddeus Stevens, who led the House of Representatives’ radical Reconstructionists and opposed Lincoln’s more moderate plans. Stoneman embodies the Union’s weakening will and its misguided social reforms. His vanity makes him easily susceptible to temptation, so he “unnaturally” supports Silas Lynch, disagrees with Abraham Lincoln’s policy of clemency for the South, and openly succumbs to his lust for his housekeeper. When Silas Lynch assumes power and subsequently becomes embroiled with the Ku Klux Klan, the basic premise of the reformers—that black men are equal to white men—is exposed as something they don’t truly believe in. Stoneman’s hypocrisy is revealed when he responds with revulsion to Lynch’s suggestion of marriage with Elsie. As a consequence of his weakness, Stoneman’s health deteriorates and he gradually fades from relevance.