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The Radical Republicans were a group of people within the Republican Party during the mid to late 19th Century when the Republicans were still Liberal. This group of Republicans had become radicalized by the strife before and during the American Civil War, and were extremely passionate and uncompromising in their convictions. The original Radical Republicans were a movement of the political Left Wing, as opposed to the Radicalized Republicans of today.
Like the Radicalized Republicans of today, the original Radical Republicans were passionate in their convictions, unwilling to compromise their beliefs, and willing to ignore the Constitution and rule of law in order to achieve their goals. As is the case with today's Radical Republicans, there was an element of Christian conviction involved in the uncompromising attitude and willingness to punish those whom they saw as outside the fold.
The original Radical Republicans were able to achieve some very important and meaningful changes in American politics and society, but unfortunately they created a Radicalization of their opponents which still persists.
Radical Republican Policies Edit
The Radical faction within the Republican Party shared many of the same goals the more Liberal Republicans and Moderate Republicans (Yes, in this case, Liberals and Moderates were considerably to the right of the radicals, so more Liberal actually meant more conservative). As with the Liberals and Moderates, Radicals desired universal civil rights, public education, graduated income tax, public infrastructure investment, etc.. Radicals differed from Liberals and moderates in both the speed they wished their policies to be adopted, and the means they were willing to employ to achieve their goals. Liberal and Moderate Republicans of the time remained committed to the Constitution and rule of law, and a gradual progression of political and social advancement for Freedmen.
The following is a list of Radical policies.
- Uncompensated emancipation (For all slaves within the United States, whether owned by Northerners or Southerners, Unionists or former Confederates) (Probably an unconstitutional taking, but the Courts were mostly silent in that period). Uncompensated emancipation was made a condition of Recognition of State Civil authority under both Presidential and Radical Reconstruction. All of the former Confederate States adopted this as condition of Federal Recognition, only to have recognition withheld by Republicans.
- Denial of Civil and Political rights to ex-Confederates and ex-Confederate sympathizers. (an unconstitutional bill of attainder)
- Punitive redistribution of property. There was some short-term distribution under martial law, but this policy was abandoned by President Johnson for being unconstitutional under Civil Law. There was, also some uncompensated taking of private property for public use under Martial Law (Arlington National Cemetery, for example, was taken from R.E.Lee's family). Radicals continued to advocate punitive taking and redistribution of property to freedmen (the 40 acres and a mule promise). Radical Republican Legislators also instituted taxes intended to force the sale of land in an attempt to aid redistribution. In many cases, these policies did not aid redistribution, so much as shift of wealth from South to North.
- Immediate extension of Civil Rights to Freedmen.
- Immediate extension of citizenship to Freedmen.
- Immediate extension of Political Franchise to Freedmen.
- Maintenance of Martial Law in the South. In many cases, the use of Freedmen Federal Troops to enforce authority over disenfranchised citizens.
- Refusal to recognize Presidential Pardons.
- Refusal to recognize Presidential Authority as Commander in Chief.
- Refusal to recognize Civil Authority or seat legislators of former Confederate States in Federal bodies.