- Jul 8, 2015
I would love to see someone present the Republicans of the 1850's as anything other than political radicals. That would be a tall task. They are the very definition of political radicals in America.
No party changed America more than they did and in such a short period of time. They had many goals that were extremely radical at the time and they took the powerful cotton industry, and the even more powerful Southern Democrat party in the South, head on. Some of them had terrible motivations and some of them had splendid motivations, but I think radical is a good description of all of them in the early years of the party. They were firebrands, change agents, and willing to risk everything to defeat their political enemies using a multitude of strategies. The party's birth was one of the great stories in American history and is my favorite part of studying the War.
And what were, exactly, the Party's goals that can plausibly described as "extremely radical"?
As discussed earlier in this thread, the "no expansion of slavery" plank was a moderate alternative to immediate abolition. Much of remainder of the platform was a modest reformulation of old-fashioned Whiggery. What was so radical?