July 10, 2010

The Radical Republicans: Lincoln's Vanguard for Racial Justice

No, this isn’t the latest left-wing screed that rails against the Conservative right. Rather, it is author Hans Trefousse’s (1921-2010) classic 1969 work that tells the story of the US Senators and Congressman known as the “Radical Republicans” who fought for racial reform in America before, during and after the Civil War. In addition to their early desire to see black men in the ranks of the US army, they also wanted a very firm and vigorous prosectution of the war with stern treatment of Rebel prisoners and civilians.

A recent obituary for the late professor states that after he wrote biographies that defended Benjamin "Bluff" Wade and Thaddeus Stevens, two detested radicals, “Trefousse wrote arguably his best book, The Radical Republicans: Lincoln’s Vanguard for Racial Justice, tracing radicalism from its late 1840 beginnings to its decline in Ulysses S. Grant’s administration. For a generation, radicals ‘had been in the political struggle for human rights’ and were the driving force within the Republican Party, liberating slaves and guaranteeing black males the right to vote. Trefousse maintains that the radicals ‘laid the foundation’ for the subsequent achievement of their goals.”

The 1969 first edition was published in hardcover by Alfred Knopf in a 5 ¾” x 8 ½” trim size and must say “First Edition” on the copyright page. The blue dust jacket should have the $10.00 price tag on the bottom right of the jacket’s front flap. As you can see here, first editions are not uncommon though as is the case with any 40-yr-old book, condition can be trickier. Pictured copy offered here.

A highly recommended work that is built primarily upon then-unpublished manuscript sources and a must for anyone interested in Northern politics during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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