Rise of the RadicalsGo Back
Radical Republicans were a faction within the regular Republican Party that advocated not only abolition of slavery but also severe treatment of dissidents. With the elections in 1864, Radical Republicans in Missouri seized an opportunity to push their agenda. Assisted by restrictions on rebels' right to vote, the Radicals gained control of the Missouri government and quickly moved to do away with the conservative policies of the provisional government that had been installed early in the war. They drafted a new state constitution in 1865 that included policies intended to severely punish those who had been disloyal to the Union. A loyalty oath required "every voter, officeholder, attorney, clergyman, teacher, and juror" to pledge that he had not committed any disloyal acts during the war. Lists of those disenfranchised people were published, with such notations as "assessed secessionist" and "in rebel service." These measures were not universally applauded, and the justice of the loyalty oath and other restrictive measures was vigorously debated. Rather than creating a unified postwar state, the Radicals created a new divided one.