Radical Reconstruction

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Thu Jul 10 10:44:56 MDT 2003

The meaning of the term "Radical Reconstruction" is not controversial.
Historians widely use it to refer to the 1867-1877 period, from the
passage of the Reconstruction Act by a Congress led by Radical
Republicans to the end of Federal military occupation in the South
following the disputed 1876 presidential election. "Radical" in this
context relates not to any generic connotation the word might have
today, but specifically to the predominance within the Republican Party
of its "Radical" wing, and the predominance of Congress over the
presidency in shaping Reconstruction policies. Use of the term to refer
to the 1867-77 period, as is conventional, does not and should not be
taken to imply that radical social change was being effected through
state actions under the banner of Reconstruction throughout the period.


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