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Radical Republicans

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Radical Republicans

America was unsure how to proceed with reunification after the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and the new president, Andrew Johnson, seemed to favor allowing the South to handle Reconstruction as it saw fit. The radical faction of the Republican Party was against this idea. They knew that the South would fall into the hands of former Confederates while African Americans suffered. Who were the radical republicans? Did Andrew Johnson succeed in allowing Confederates to control the South? Let's explore the rise of Radical Republicanism.

Radical Republicanism

A splinter group from the Republican party that advocated for equality for African Americans. This group was considered to be far more extreme than the average Republican.

Radical Republicans: Civil War

Just before the Civil War, the Radical Republican party was formed. Abraham Lincoln would do whatever it took to preserve the Union and that was what the Civil War was about for him. The Radical Republicans aimed to end slavery.

The Radicals created the Joint Committee on the Conduct of War to monitor Lincoln and other politicians in power during the war. The Committee aimed to pressure Lincoln into freeing the enslaved people. They got just that with the Emancipation Proclamation.

As the Civil War came to a close, American politicians were unsure of what to do with Confederates and African Americans. Abraham Lincoln wanted to allow them to swiftly re-enter the Union so that things could return to normal. In 1864 proposed the Wade-Davis Bill. The Radicals wanted to control Reconstruction and to do so, they needed to keep the former Confederates in check.

Wade-Davis Bill

This Bill proposed stronger regulations for the new government in the South. No one who had taken up arms to fight against the Union was to hold a political position of power. This bill would have excluded all former Confederates. Abraham Lincoln vetoed it.

Rise of Radical Republicanism Andrew Johnson StudysmarterFig. 1 - Andrew Johnson.

Lincoln was assassinated and his vice president, Andrew Johnson, took his place. Johnson lacked Lincoln's view and appeared to lack an understanding of Reconstruction. Before the war, Johnson was an enslaver who lived in Tennessee. Radical Republicans thought that he was on their side because Johnson favored harsher punishments for Confederates during the war. This proved to be a false assumption because Johnson also opposed equality for African Americans.

Radical Republicans: Definition

The Radical Republicans were a group of Republicans during the Civil War and Reconstruction who wanted suffrage for African American men. They also wanted to protect African Americans. Events like the Memphis Massacre made the Radicals realize that African Americans were in danger and needed help.

The 1866 Memphis Massacre

On May 1, 1866, in Memphis, Tennessee, a white police officer attempted to arrest a black soldier. When African Americans showed up to support the soldier and prevent his arrest, violence broke out. The target of this violence was African American soldiers, so they were removed from the city. The target shifted to freedmen, they were attacked, murdered, and raped while their schools and churches were burned down. Police joined in, the mayor refused to help, and 48 freedmen were killed. The riots ended after three days when black and white troops were sent in.

Rise of Radical Republicanism Radical Republicans StudysmarterFig. 2 - Radical Republican South Carolina Legislatures.

Leader of the Radical Republicans

Thaddeus Stevens led the Radical Republicans. Stevens was the most radical of all the Republicans. Not only did he believe that African Americans deserved the right to vote, but also that they were owed land and money. Stevens wanted to confiscate nearly 400 million acres of land in the South, taken from the wealthiest 70,000 (mostly enslavers), and redistribute 40 million acres to 1 million African Americans, granting them 40 acres and $100 to build a home on their new land.

Rise of Radical Republicanism Thaddeus Johnson StudysmarterFig. 3 - Thaddeus Stevens.

Stevens provided three arguments for the suffrage of African American men:

  • It was the right thing to do. African American men deserved to vote just like any white man.
  • They wouldn't vote for former Confederates and would join the Republicans in Southern states to gain a majority.
  • They would aid the rise of the Republican party across America.

Radical Republicans: Reconstruction

Andrew Johnson was openly opposed to reconstruction being led by African Americans and laws that would support them. After the Memphis Massacre, Radical Republicans wanted to pass the 14th Amendment, but Johnson would not sign it. So Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which gave more rights to freedmen and granted them access to the court system. Johnson attempted to veto it, but Congress overturned his veto with a 2/3 majority vote. In the 1866 election, Republicans won the majority with a three-to-one split.

14th Amendment

In 1857, the Supreme Court decided that African Americans were not citizens with the outcome of the Dred Scott Case. This meant that when they were freed, they did not have the same protection rights as citizens.

The 14th Amendment stated that anyone born in the United States was a citizen of the United States and the state in which they were born, overturning the Dred Scott Case. This Amendment was created by the Radical Republicans and was passed by Congress in 1866, but would not be ratified for another two years!

Did the 14th Amendment Apply to Everyone?

The 14th Amendment gave citizenship to anyone born in the United States or immigrants who were naturalized (the process by which immigrants obtain citizenship). This excluded indigenous people born in the United States. Indigenous people would not be considered citizens until 1924, and it would not be until 1948 that they could vote in every state.

Reconstruction Act of 1867

Republicans understood that they had to make the South accept Reconstruction, so the Reconstruction Act of 1867 was passed. This Act explained the requirements for Confederate states to rejoin the Union. The former Confederate states were split into five regions, each having a US military general in charge. The general's job was to register all eligible men (black and white) to vote, preside over constitutional conventions, and maintain the safety of black people as they voted.

Rise of Radical Republicanism Map of Military districts StudySmarterFig. 4 - Military Districts during Reconstruction.

The states would have to draft a constitution, then the citizens would vote. A majority of citizens had to approve the new constitution before the state could rejoin. The voters had to include eligible African American men. The states also had to ratify the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Thirteenth Amendment:

This amendment ended slavery in America.

  • The Reconstruction Act of 1867 divided Southern states into five regions with a military general in charge of each section.
  • The terms for Confederate states to rejoin the Union were:
    • Accept the 13th and 14th Amendments
    • Create New Constitutions
    • The new Constitution must be voted in by a majority of voters (voters must include black people)

Tenure of Office Act (1867 - 1887)

Johnson was unhappy with the Reconstruction Act of 1867 though there was not much he could do about it. Congress had passed the Tenure of Office Act in 1867 which prohibited Johnson from firing members of his cabinet who were already approved by Congress. This meant that he could not fire his Republican cabinet members.

However, Johnson fired the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in 1867, thus violating the Tenure of Office Act. In violation of breaking the act, Johnson was impeached in 1868.

Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives on 24 February 1868. Impeachment meant that the president was charged with misconduct and could be removed from office. On 16 May 1868, the Senate voted on whether to remove Johnson from office. Johnson won the right to remain president by one vote. He won because the Senate believed that they were overstepping their roles by impeaching him.

Rise of Radical Republicanism Impeachment of Andrew Johnson StudySmarterFig. 5 - The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Though Johnson won, he was incredibly weakened. He would not be able to stand against the Radical Republicans for the duration of his presidency. In 1868, the US presidential election was held and the Republican Ulysses S. Grant was elected as Johnson's successor.

Grant supported the Radical Republicans and would go on to create more laws to protect and enfranchise African Americans. One of the most notable laws of this time was the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the right to vote.

The Compromise of 1877

It was unclear who won the election of 1877. Allies of the Republican nominee Rutherford B. Hayes met with Democrats to come to an agreement. If Hayes met their demands, then he could be president. In the unofficial Compromise of 1877 or the Great Betrayal, Hayes agreed to remove all troops from the South, place a Southern Democrat in his cabinet, build a transcontinental railroad in Texas, and introduce legislation that would assist in industrializing the South.

When the South was demilitarized, there was no one to protect African Americans. Southern politicians legalized segregation in a piece of legislation referred to as Jim Crow Laws. African Americans were barred from voting by literacy tests and voting taxes. The South steadily became more dangerous for African Americans. As the Reconstruction Era ended, the New South emerged.

Radical Republicans: Significance

Radical Republicans had to work against President Johnson for the rights of African Americans. Black people were able to join in on politics and began to gain some control over the country that for so long had kept them captive. While reconstruction was not perfect and figures like Thaddeus Stevens argued that it did not go far enough, it was still able to pass the 14th and 15th Amendments plus more laws and legislation that benefitted African Americans and poor white people. All of this would not have been possible without the radical republicans.

Radical Republicans - Key Takeaways

  • The Radical Republicans wanted to enfranchise African Americans
  • The Reconstruction Act of 1867 laid the terms for Confederate states to rejoin the Union
  • The Reconstruction Act of 1867 divided up the Confederate states and put them under military control
  • Andrew Johnson was impeached but not removed from office
  • Rutherford B. Hayes became president after the 1877 election. He won by agreeing to the Compromise of 1877, aka the Great Betrayal, which allowed Jim Crow laws to be created in the South.

References

  1. Fig. 4 - "US Reconstruction Military Districts" (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Reconstruction_military_districts.png) by Jengod (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jengod) licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

Frequently Asked Questions about Radical Republicans

The Radical Republicans were a group of republicans during the Civil War and Reconstruction who wanted suffrage for African American men. They were led by Thaddeus Stevens.

Radical Republicans wanted suffrage for African American men and protection for African Americans. This was a result of their plans for Reconstruction after the Civil War, with especially tighter regulations on the South.

The Radical Republicans were splinter group of the Republican party that emerged just before the Civil War. They wanted Reconstruction to include suffrage and better rights for African Americans.

A splinter group from the Republican party that advocated for equality for African Americans. This group was considered to be far more extreme than the average Republican.

The Radical Republicans advocated that African Americans should have:

- land distributions, 

- jobs, 

- education.

Final Radical Republicans Quiz

Question

Why did Andrew Johnson say he didn't support the Civil Rights Act of 1866?

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Answer

States' rights 

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Question

What was the Civil Rights Act of 1866 a response to?

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Answer

The Black Codes 

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Question

What was something that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 did?


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Answer

It made people born inside the United States citizens

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Question

Who was not included in the Civil Rights Act of 1866?

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Answer

Indigenous people who didn't pay taxes 

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Question

What political party supported the Civil Rights Act of 1866?


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Answer

Republican 

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Question

The President vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866

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Answer

True 

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Question

What were specific rights given to citizens in the Civil Rights Act of 1866?

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Answer

"to make and enforce contracts"

"to sue, be parties, and give evidence"

"to inherit, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property"

"to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other"

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Question

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was the first time Congress legislated on civil rights 


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Answer

True 

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Question

Andrew Johnson became president through popular vote 

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Answer

False 

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Question

Congress quickly passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 by large margins 

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Answer

True 

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Question

What did the Thirteenth Amendment do?

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Answer

Outlawed human enslavement 

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Who was president when the Thirteenth Amendment passed?

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Answer

Abraham Lincoln 

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Question

The Thirteenth Amendment was the most involved Abraham Lincoln ever got with the affairs of Congress 


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Answer

True 

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Question

The Emancipation Proclamation freed all of the slaves in the United States

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Answer

False, it only freed the slaves in the Confederate states but the Union had four slave states still 

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Question

Who has the power to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment?


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Answer

Congress 

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Which Union states did not ratify the Thirteenth Amendment?

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Answer

Delaware and Kentucky 

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Question

Passing the Thirteenth Amendment was easy


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Answer

False, the bill had a hard time in the House 

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Question

What majority was required to pass a constitutional amendment in Congress?

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Answer

Two-thirds

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What majority of states were required to ratify a constitutional amendment?


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Answer

Three-fourths

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Question

Human enslavement in America had been an issue debated going back to drafting the United States constitution 

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Answer

True 

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Question

Radical Republicans wanted suffrage for which group of people?

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Answer

African American men

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Question

Who was the leader of the radical republicans?

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Answer

Thaddeus Stevens

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Question

Which of the following was not one of Thaddeus Steven's reasons for African American suffrage?

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Answer

African American people could run for Senate

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Question

Which president would not sign the 14th Amendment?

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Answer

Andrew Johnson

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Question

Which pre-Civil war Supreme Court case decided that African Americans were not citizens?

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Answer

The Dread Scott case

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Question

The Reconstruction Act of 1867 divided the South into five military districts.

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Answer

True

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Question

Which amendment ended slavery in America?

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Answer

13th 

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Which act lead to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson?

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Tenure of Office Act

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Andrew Jackson was impeached and removed from office.

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True

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Question

Which act laid out the terms for the former Confederate states to rejoin the Union?

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Answer

Reconstruction Act of 1867

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Question

List the main goals of the Freedmen's Bureau. 

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Answer

1. Provide Clothing and Food 

2. Provide Healthcare 

3. Provide Education 

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Explain the difference between the Freedmen Bureau's Act of 1865 and 1866. 

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Answer

The Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1865 established the bureau while in 1866 it expanded the power of the act by removing the deadline and including all enslaved people throughout the country. 

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Question

The bureau acted as a(n) ___________to help enslaved African Americans transition from enslavement to freedom. 

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Answer

welfare agency 

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When was the Freedmen's Bureau established? 

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1865

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In what area did the Freedmen's Bureau have their most important accomplishments? 

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Answer

Education

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What crucial provision could the Freedmen's Bureau not offer African Americans after it was disbanded? 

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Answer

Long Term Protection 

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What led Congress to abolish the Freedmen's Bureau? 

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Answer

Pushback from White Southerners

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In what year was the Freedmen's Bureau disbanded? 

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1872

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Which university was a well-known supporter of the Freedmen's Bureau's educational goals? 

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Answer

Fisk University 

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Fisk University's main educational goal was? 

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Answer

to be open to everyone regardless of race and gender 

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Who was the presidential nominee of the Liberal Republican Party?

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Answer

Horace Greeley

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Who was the first politican elected as a Liberal Republican?

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Answer

Benjamin Gratz Brown

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Where was the Liberal Republican Party founded?


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Missouri 

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Who founded the Liberal Republican Party?

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Answer

Carl Schurz

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When did some Republicans begin to break away from the party?

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Answer

The impeachment of Andrew Johnson 

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Question

What did the Liberal Republican Party want for the South?


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Answer

Reconcilliation 

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What general ideas did the Liberal Republican Party stand against?

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Answer

Centralization and corruption 

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​What other party nominated the Liberal Republican ticket in 1872?


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Answer

Democratic Party 

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What happened to the Liberal Republican Party after the election of 1872?

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Answer

It disbanded 

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Question

Did the Liberal Republican Party win the 1872 presidential election?

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Answer

No

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