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After SlaveryRace, Labor, and Citizenship in the Reconstruction South$
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Bruce E. Baker and Brian Kelly

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044774

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044774.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

“It Looks Much Like Abandoned Land”

“It Looks Much Like Abandoned Land”

Property and the Politics of Loyalty in Reconstruction Mississippi

(p.77) 4 “It Looks Much Like Abandoned Land”
After Slavery

Erik Mathisen

University Press of Florida

In post-Civil War Mississippi, loyalty—the measuring of an individual's faithful allegiance to government—became something of a political currency, used by whites to secure the property of those who had lost their land or possessions. In countless local battles over property, white Mississippians attempted to minimize their past transgressions as former Confederates and claim a renewed spirit of Unionism, often with checkered results. Understanding the impact of this process focuses attention on the opportunities afforded African Americans to both proclaim their loyalty and claim property. African Americans learned how to make use of their new relationship with the federal state, leveraging their loyalty in return for federal protection and civic rights. Claiming their loyalty to the Union as both more profound and trustworthy when compared to that of former Confederates, African Americans used the politics of loyalty to make a bid for citizenship and possessions they believed were rightfully theirs.

Keywords:   loyalty, African Americans, federal government, Freedmen's Bureau, property claims, Mississippi, Unionism, land ownership

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