Semester of Graduation
Master of Arts (MA)
Ulysses S. Grant’s tenure as United States President from 1869 to 1877 saw the creation of a new federal Indian Policy, dubbed the Peace Policy. Grant’s goal was to end hostilities between not only the US government and Natives, but between the general populace and Natives. His policy included the creation of the Board of Indian Commissioners, continuation of the reservation system, assimilation, and ending the treaty system. His plans for peaceful coexistence did not come to fruition. This thesis assesses why the Peace Policy was a failure and does so by comparing the results among the Five Tribes of Indian Territory and the Upper Plains Sioux. Indian Territory enjoyed relative peace, with no organized violence against the federal government or non-Indian population. In juxtaposition, the Upper Plains were in a near-constant state of distress. The Sioux raided railroads and wagon trains and engaged in violence with invading whites. This eventually culminated in the 1876-1877 Great Sioux War which ended in in Sioux defeat. The failure of Grant’s Indian Policy can be attributed to his and the differing tribes’ actions. Most white people in the nineteenth century were believers in white supremacy and Grant was no exception. His bedrock racism, coupled with the corruption rampant in his administration, and capitalism contributed to the unsuccessful change in policy. For their part, the Five Tribes held the peace due to their diplomatic recourse and the incorporation of Anglo-American ideals into their society. In contrast, the Sioux often reacted to affronts with violence and refused to participate in Grant’s assimilation program, resulting in an unstable environment and their becoming targets for government retaliation.
Gardner, Abigail, "War and Peace: Grant's Peace Policy in Indian Territory and the Upper Plains" (2022). LSU Master's Theses. 5621.
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