The Civil War and Reconstruction wrought a political and social revolution in the United States, destroying the South's slave-labor system, promising equal civil and political rights to African Americans, and wrenching the federal government out of the hands o f the southern elite and its friends. Pennsylvania congressman Thaddeus Stevens was one of the revolution's most important and impressive political leaders. Among the foremost abolitionists in Congress in the years leading up to the war, he became a leader of the Republican Party's radical wing in wartime, fighting for a broad range of anti-slavery and anti-racist policies --including the abolition of slavery nationwide--well before party colleagues like Abraham Lincoln endorsed them.
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