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Creating Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century South$
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William A. Link, David Brown, Brian Ward, and Martyn Bone

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044132

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044132.001.0001

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The Antithesis of Union Men and Confederate Rebels

The Antithesis of Union Men and Confederate Rebels

Loyal Citizenship in the Post–Civil War South

(p.150) 7 The Antithesis of Union Men and Confederate Rebels
Creating Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century South

Susanna Michele Lee

University Press of Florida

“Confederates” and “Unionists” were wartime categories that did not necessarily carry postwar implications. To what extent would distinctions according to loyalty limit or expand conceptualizations of citizenship? Insisting upon the relevance of wartime loyalties, northern and southern Republicans argued that Confederates had abandoned the Union, incurring penalties, while Unionists had stood by the nation, earning rewards. Both sides agreed on the centrality of loyalty to citizenship, but they disagreed over its definition with one side fixing loyalty in the war years and the other side displacing loyalty to the postwar years. During Reconstruction, politicians debated the role of loyalty as a qualification for access to the rights and privileges of citizenship, including property claims, land restoration, rations, pensions, jury service, suffrage, and officeholding. The federal government’s extension of pardon and amnesty and failure to prosecute alleged traitors signaled an official policy of forgetting. During its ten-year operation, the Southern Claims Commission acted as a key bulwark against this trajectory by preserving wartime loyalty as the prerequisite for the payment of property claims. Congress created the commission in 1871 to compensate “loyal citizens” of the South for property appropriated by the Union army.

Keywords:   Reconstruction, Unionism, citizenship, Southern Claims Commission

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