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“Errors of judgement, not of intent”: The Southern Policy of Ulysses S. Grant

Dotor Cespedes, RAO; (2015) “Errors of judgement, not of intent”: The Southern Policy of Ulysses S. Grant. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The Reconstruction era has been subject to countless studies seeking to vilify or celebrate citizens and politicians of the time. From an initial consensus on its immorality and opportunism, to a revisionism where its achievements were celebrated, and a post-revisionism where the cause of its downfall became the focus, the racial, social and political aspects of Reconstruction have been subject to over a century of debate. Within this historiography, though, the significance of Ulysses S. Grant has been predominantly ignored. Challenging the view that Grant lacked political and racial ideals, the aim of this thesis, and my original contribution to knowledge, is to define his Southern Policy in the context of a personal political and racial philosophy, rather than a record of achievement. An examination of the development of his viewpoint on Reconstruction, the rights of the freedmen, and the power of the President and Federal Government, reveals a struggle at the heart of Grant’s Southern policy as he sought to protect the results of the Civil War whilst hastening a close to the work or Reconstruction. Furthermore, careful study of his correspondence reveal him to be an egalitarian who, if permitted, would have been willing to manage the South with greater force and in far more absolute terms. The tension of his ideals and the dichotomy between thought and action resulted in an inconsistent approach to Southern state crises, counter-productive policy choices and ill-timed changes of course. The outcome was a Southern policy that was not only a political failure for Southern Republicans but, as revealed by a study of Grant’s philosophy on the political and racial issues of the day, a personal one for the President.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: “Errors of judgement, not of intent”: The Southern Policy of Ulysses S. Grant
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1460358
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