In 1863, two years prior to the end of the Civil War, the Era of Reconstruction of the United States had begun. This period of reconstruction was a time of chaos and disorder uprooted from the strong resentment against white Southerners that postwar plans had created. Reconstruction plans of Abraham Lincoln, Radical Republicans in Congress, and Andrew Johnson were very diverse and contained many distinct differences. Passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, which banned slavery, established the rights of African Americans, and defined the basis by which Southern states could rejoin the Union, inflamed this strong sense of anger and resentment. The actions of the Radical Republicans, especially, led to many changes in the South. Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner, leaders of this zealous antislavery advocate group, held many motives which they hoped would lead them to possess power by taking advantage of South through any way possible.
A group formed of a coalition of Northern altruists, industrialists, former Whigs, practical politicians, the Radical Republicans shared similar qualities and beliefs that abolitionists held. They were not committed to the emancipation of slaves and in favor of abolitionism, but believed that freed slaves should hold the same rights that whites held. Radicals believed that blacks were entitled to the same political rights and opportunities as whites, fully dedicated to achieving equal treatment and enfranchisement of freed blacks. Radical Republicans, like abolitionists, opposed the Fugitive Slave Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
Following the elections of 1860, Radical Republicans began to develop a strong, powerful force in Congress, some becoming chairmen of important committees. In the midst of the Civil War, Radicals were very critical of Abraham Lincoln, who was reluctant to move toward speedy abolition. Their precariousness also came from Lincoln’s slow progress to support the recruitment of black soldiers, and his treatment of Major John C. Fremont. In response to Lincoln’s reluctance, Radicals broke with him completely over Reconstruction policy.
Also critical of Lincoln’s Reconstruction Plan, Benjamin Wade and Henry Winter Davis sponsored a bill, arguing that civil government should only be...