“Anybody who would trash Lee and laud Lincoln is either stupid as a post or just plain evil,” said a sage reader. This applies in spades to anyone who would laud the Radical Republicans of 1865, as one TV GOP blonde has recently, and asininely, done.
The Radical Republicans, if you can believe it, considered Abraham Lincoln a moderate (a bad thing, in their book). Lincoln successor Andrew Johnson these fanatics branded a reactionary (punishable by obstruction and impeachment).
Praised these days by the blonde-ambition faction of the Republican Party, the Radicals were stars of America’s own Reign of Terror over the South, at the end of the War Between the States.
If the French Reign of Terror was led by the terrifying Robespierre and his Jacobins; its American equivalent was infused with the spirit of lunatics like John Brown. (His abolitionist activists snatched five pro-slavery settlers near Pottawatomie Creek, in 1856, and split the captives’ skulls with broadswords, in an act of biblical retribution gone mad.)
Thaddeus Stevens was another of their “inspirational” madmen, lauded in the annals of the Party of Reconstruction. In his biography of Stevens, Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth Century Egalitarian, historian Hans Trefousse even makes a brief reference to the Jacobin Club, a term reserved for the most extreme Republicans in Congress (p. 168). Other club members: Henry Winter Davis, Benjamin Butler, Charles Sumner, Benjamin Wade, Zachariah Chandler.
Although Republicans shared “the drive toward revolution and national unification” (the words of historian Clyde Wilson, in The Yankee Problem, 2016), the Radicals distinguished themselves in their support for sadistic military occupation of the vanquished Rebel States, following the War Between the States.
While assorted GOP teletarts may find the rhetoric of Radical Republicans sexy; overall, these characters are villains of history, for helping to sunder the federal scheme bequeathed by the Founding Fathers. In their fanatical fealty to an almighty central government, Radical Republicans were as alien to the Jeffersonian tradition of self-government as it gets.
Today’s Republicans should know that the Radical Republicans were hardly heartbroken about the assassination of Lincoln, on April 14, 1865.
A mere month earlier (March 4, 1865)—and much to the chagrin of the Radicals—Lincoln had noodled, in his billowing prose, about the need to “bind up the nation’s wounds and proceed with “malice toward none … and charity for all.”
Radical Republicans were having none of that charity stuff. They promptly placed their evil aspirations in Andrew Johnson. A President Johnson, they had hoped, would be a suitable sockpuppet in socking it to the South some more.
Alas, Johnson, a poor, white tailor from North Carolina, turned out, in today’s political nomenclature, to be something of a populist. In going against the Radical Republicans, the 17th president of the United States was the Trump of his time, up against the Rubio-McCain-Graham Radical Republicans. (Marco Rubio, incidentally, has gone as far as to rationalize the Antifa ruffians’ violence, tweeting: “When [an] entire movement [is] built on anger and hatred towards people different than [sic] you, it justifies and ultimately leads to violence against them.”)
When Johnson failed to deliver the radical changes Radical Republicans demanded, our 1865 Antifans accused him of being “tainted by Lincolnism.”
Let’s unpack this …
Me: Dig deep into what the Union League (the KKK of the Republicans) did to innocents … Violence, coercion, discrimination, intimidation; disfranchisement; Antifa has done nothing compared to the RR. The metaphor is more than apt, except the RR WERE THE GOVERNMENT. Antifa are still extra-governmental.
UPDATE I (9/6/017):
Brilliant and utterly unsurprising that Ilana has been the only author of note to write on this subject. The Radicals were not only tyrants, they were criminals. We owe almost the entire organized crime of America to these individuals. With their graft, greed, formation of identity politics, corporate chicanery, and corruption, they made national the Tammany Hall style of politics. It was from the road paved with this corruption that the mafia, Irish mob and others rode their way to global power.
Thank you for this thoughtful and well-researched article. God save the South.
“Fool me” writes a day ago:
Ten thumbs up for Ilana!
Petronius • a day ago:
Ms Mercer’s list of Jacobins is woefully incomplete without Edwin McMasters Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, who should probably rank as America’s greatest war criminal. ..
Historian of the South Clyde N. Wilson writes with a correction to Clement Wood, whom I quote in “The Radical Republicans: The Antifa Of 1865“:
Dear Ilana—great historical work you are doing!! One mild correction. The Southern states in the first elections after the war did not elect “secessionists” to office. In fact, they carefully elected and Johnson appointed, men who had not been active secessionists but had gone along loyally with their people—Perry in SC., Sharkey in MS, Worth in NC, etc.