Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Damms, Richard V.

Committee Member

Hui, Alexandra

Committee Member

Lang, Andrew F.

Committee Member

Marshall, Anne E.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of History


This dissertation examines Ulysses S. Grant’s Reconstruction policy, both the domestic and foreign policies, as an integrated whole. He focused on the broad application of citizenship rights, not only for African Americans in the South, but for all peoples in the United States’ sphere of influence. The centerpiece of Grant’s Reconstruction policy was the “Grant Doctrine,” articulated in his 1869 memorandum considering whether to annex the Dominican Republic to the United States. In it, Grant delineated his determination to export the republican policies of Reconstruction to the Caribbean by the acquisition of the island territory. Grant envisioned exporting the ideals of Reconstruction, the rights of citizenship, and the republican values of the Reconstruction Amendments, to people never previously considered for full membership in the body politic of the United States. Grant’s decisions to annex the Dominican Republic and grant the Dominicans citizenship reflect the responsibilities Grant had to enforce equal rights for those seeking to join the Union. Grant’s desire to provide a path to citizenship for Native Americans (whether they wanted it or not) and his effort to withhold citizenship from Mormons due to the immorality of their practice of polygamy, added to the changing views of citizenship in this era. Grant’s Reconstruction policy also included his desire to help Chinese immigrants break the bonds of forced labor, though that ultimately led to their eventual exclusion. This dissertation examines all of these initiatives as well as the position of African American leaders who questioned the president’s decision-making and argued against his policies, while never wavering in their political support of him or his party. Together, Grant’s foreign and domestic policies represented a singular Reconstruction effort centered on the question of citizenship. The Grant administration sought to export Reconstruction beyond the borders of the American South, restoring and strengthening the Union while, at the same time, offering republicanism, liberty, equality, and free labor, to peoples of the Western Hemisphere writ large and the peoples of the world migrating to the United States.