Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Dr. Mary Niall Mitchell

Second Advisor

Dr. Connie Atkinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Gunter Bischof


The period of Reconstruction following the American Civil War, and its legacy, have been the subjects of long debate among historians. Scholars, though, have yet to fully explore important connections between American Reconstruction, the New South that followed, and the period of U.S. imperialism in Central America in the late nineteenth century. The storied career of Major Edward Austin Burke—a Kentucky-born Louisiana Democrat who went on to become a proponent of expansionism and imperialism in Honduras—illuminates the transnational implications of Reconstruction and its aftermath. Through careful examination of personal papers, news accounts, promotional materials, Congressional testimonies and other government records, this thesis finds the roots of Burke’s involvement in Central America in postbellum New Orleans. It demonstrates the importance of participation in Reconstruction and New South politics to the long political career of one of the most prominent U.S. imperialists in Central America in the late nineteenth century.


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