Radical Republican


Radical Republican

Member of the Republican Party in the 1860s committed to the emancipation of slaves and the equal treatment and enfranchisment of blacks. Zealous antislavery advocates in the Congress pressed Pres. Abraham Lincoln to include emancipation as a war aim. They later opposed his policy of lenient Reconstruction of the South under presidential control and passed harsher measures in the Wade-Davis Bill. After Lincoln's death the Radicals supported Pres. Andrew Johnson but soon demanded congressional control of Reconstruction. Johnson's attempt to break the Radicals' power led them to pass the Tenure of Office Act; his challenge of the act led to his impeachment. Radical Republican leaders included Henry Winter Davis (1817–65), Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, and Benjamin Butler. Their influence waned as white control over Southern governments gradually returned in the 1870s.

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