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Many historians believe that the work of the Radical Republicans started the Civil Rights Movement that continues today. From 1860, a group of influential Republicans believed in the abolition of slavery and in equal rights for freed slaves. Freed slaves should share the same rights that white citizens enjoyed. They also felt that it was necessary for freed slaves to participate in free enterprise. For years, the Radical Republicans opposed any government action that did not support civil rights for slaves and the dismantling of Southern plantations, equitable reconstruction of the South. They often clashed with President Lincoln and were instrumental in the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Andrew Johnson opposed Civil Right Bills and was against maintaining the Freeman’s Bureau. The Radical Republicans were strong enough to impeach President Andrew Johnson, and were instrumental in passing Reconstruction Acts in the 1860s.
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