Thaddeus Stevens was a Pennsylvania Congressman and one of the leaders of the Radical Republicans who often pressed President Abraham Lincoln on war and emancipation policies. Stevens, was a fierce opponent of slavery and discrimination against African-Americans. Stevens sought to secure their rights during Reconstruction, in opposition to President Andrew Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, the 17th U.S. president, assumed office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Johnson, who served from 1865 to 1869, was the first American president to be impeached. As president, Johnson took a moderate approach to restoring the South to the Union, and clashed with Radical Republicans. In 1868, he was impeached by Congress, but he was not removed from office.
Civil Rights Act of 1866
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 granted citizenship and the same rights enjoyed by white citizens to all male persons in the United States "without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude." President Andrew Johnson's veto of the bill was overturned by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress, and the bill became a law. Johnson's attitude contributed the growth of the Radical Republican movement, which favored increased intervention in the South and more aid to former slaves, and ultimately to Johnson's impeachment.
The Freedmen's Bureau was created by Congress in March 1865 to assist for one year in the transition from slavery to freedom in the South. The bureau was run by the War Department. Their responsibilities included introducing a system of free labor, overseeing some 3,000 schools for freed persons, settling disputes and enforcing contracts between the usually white landowners and their black labor force, and securing justice for blacks in state courts.