Hiram Revels of Mississippi was elected Senator and six other African Americans were elected as Congressmen from other southern states during the Radical Republicans Reconstruction era.
Radical Republicans Reconstruction
These policies were not severe enough for the Radical Republicans, a faction of the Republican Party that favored a stricter Reconstruction policy. They insisted on a dramatic expansion of the power of the federal government over the states as well as guarantees of black suffrage. The Radicals did consider the Southern states out of the Union. Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner spoke of the former Confederate states as having “committed suicide.” Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania went further, describing the seceded states as “conquered provinces.” Such a mentality would go a long way in justifying the Radicals’ disregard of the rule of law in their treatment of these states.
President Johnson’s Reconstruction plan had been proceeding well by the time Congress convened in late 1865. But Congress refused to seat the representatives from the Southern states even though they had organized governments according to the terms of Lincoln’s or Johnson’s plan. Although Congress had the right to judge the qualifications of its members, this was a sweeping rejection of an entire class of representatives rather than the case-by-case evaluation assumed by the Constitution. When Tennessee’s Horace Maynard, who had never been anything but scrupulously loyal to the Union, was not seated, it was clear that no Southern representative would be.
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