The definition of Radical Republicans is that they are members of the Republican Party that existed during and after the Civil War of 1861-1865. The party contributed to the emancipation of slavery and advocated for the equal treatment of the freed black people.


During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans increasingly took control over the country. The party was formed as a coalition of industrialists, altruists, and the former members of the Whigs party. Radical Republicans were anti-slavery advocates, although their party was not committed to the elimination of slavery publicly.

In 1861, the party formed the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. The reason for it was that Radical Republicans were frustrated by the lack of progress towards the elimination of slavery and the poor showing of the Union Army.

At first, the party’s president was Andrew Johnson. However, by 1866, the Radical Republicans supported federal civil rights for freed individuals, which Johnson opposed, which forced Radicals to turn on him. You can find the picture of the impeachment trial below.

The leaders of the party were Henry Winter Davis, Benjamin Butler, Thaddeus Stevens, and George Sewall Boutwell. They represented Radical Republicans in the House. Zachariah Chandler, Charles Sumner, and Benjamin Wade, in their turn, were the party’s members in the Senate.

Some of the most significant measures Radical Republicans took happened in 1867. In this year, they defined terms for suffrage for freed slaves and limited early suffrage for many ex-confederates. Moreover, the party presented the Reconstructions Act of 1868-1868.

It is notable that Radicals never were a cohesive group because they were only united by their commitment to the common problem of racial justice. Radical Republicans did not share views on other significant issues, including protectionism, hard and soft money, and labor reform.