Radical Republicans believed in total emancipation, and went further in saying that slaves should have equality with all other citizens. This leads most historians to state that Radical Republicans were liberals (in the modern sense). They opposed legislations such as the Fugitive Slave Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. After the 1860 elections, various Radical Republicans were elected to high positions in committees and such.
Radical Republicans were often critical of President Abraham Lincoln, whom they felt was too slow in freeing the slaves and supporting their equality. When various generals emancipated slaves personally (including Major Generals John C. Fremont and David Hunter), President Lincoln became furious and recanted both of those proclamations.
Lincoln had various Radical Republicans on his cabinet. The first was the Treasury Secretary, Salmon P. Chase (whom Lincoln later appointed to the Supreme Court). Later, members such as Edwin P. Stanton and James Speed were appointed to the cabinet.
The Radical Republicans led the Reconstruction of the South, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, along with influencing many future president, including Ulysses S. Grant. Although the majority of senators believed that Johnson was guilty, they did not want the extremely radical Benjamin Wade to become president, and eventually, Johnson was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.
After the Civil War, though, Radical Republicans began losing power (because their platform of equality was not very important to the public afterwards). In the 1870s, the last influence of the Radical Republicans died out.
Famous Radical Republicans