Any understanding of Radical Republican Reconstruction does not begin with the basic premise that any idea can be right. It begins with a presumption. A presumption is that America was intended to be, as a republic. The Declaration of Independence does not recognize a “king” or a “federal government” within its first ten lines, while the Constitution does.
If we assume that the Founders intended to establish a republic, then we must assume that it is fundamentally impossible to do anything else. They did not have democracy; they had a republic. So, the only other option was to choose a monarchy and go back to a form of representative government.
The way that the Founding Fathers saw their republic was as a “republican republic”. We can see that in what is called “the Federalist Papers”, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The three of them are instrumental in creating the framework that we call the Constitution.
For those of us who do not understand the Declaration of Independence, it means that the United States of America was, from the beginning, a republic. In that Declaration, the authors are declaring their right to govern themselves, within a government that they created. Even though they did not call it “republic”republican”, it was, in fact, a republic, because the word republic implied representative government.
Before the Revolution, England was a monarchy, but it had the right to determine who would rule over them. That right of kings was, by the Constitution, a guarantee that the United States of America would be governed by representatives chosen by the people. This is the simple and clear meaning of the Declaration of Independence.
There is a deeper reason for why the Revolution was necessary only after the Revolutionary War. The first ten amendments to the Constitution were, at least in part, designed to prevent tyranny. In that sense, the Constitution was never meant to be a monarchy, because it gave the American people the authority to create their own government. Only when the people were done with that government could it be manipulated by others.
All those people who, since the Revolutionary War, have been proclaiming Radical Republican Reconstruction have been the people who succeeded in creating their own political structures. The Founders, who are usually the scapegoats, understood this, too. That is why they stated that the national government was made for the people, but that the people were made for the government.
By that reasoning, any form of a republic, which was not centered on representative government, was illegitimate. Democracy was, by definition, a form of government where those in power could determine who should be allowed to vote, and how many votes would be given. The Constitution has defined and limited the power of the people, and even restricted it to a reasonable degree.