RADICAL REPUBLICANS During and immediately following the Civil War, those Republicans who advocated a harsh, vindictive and punitive policy towards the former Confederate states were called Radicals. The majority of the Radicals were either diehard
abolitionists or strongly antislavery in their sentiments. Following the war, Radical Republicans in Congress succeeded in dominating the "reconstruction" of the South. Most of them believed that the southern states had, by secession, committed suicide and, accordingly, that they were now mere conquered provinces to be administered by Congress.
Understandably, the policies which characterized Radical Republican Reconstruction were harsh and vindictive, at least in the eyes of southerners. Concurrently and notwithstanding the fact that they were being used as political tools to construct a viable Republican party in the South, southern black freedmen generally benefited from Radical-imposed rule during Reconstruction. Prominent congressional Radicals included Charles Summer, Thaddeus Stevens, Zachariah Chandler, Henry W. Davis and Benjamin Wade. See also: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION.