The Southern Claims Commission (SCC) was an organization of the executive branch of the United States government from 1871 to 1880, created under President Ulysses S. Grant. Its purpose was to allow Union sympathizers who had lived in the Southern states during the American Civil War, 1861–1865, to apply for reimbursements for property losses due to U.S. Army confiscations during the war.
Southerners from 12 states (West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas) filed claims with the Southern Claims Commission from 1871 to 1873 if they:
Southern Loyalists (those who were Union sympathizers) made 22,298 claims. Only 32 percent of the claims (7,092) were approved for payment. The claimants used the testimony of their neighbors as evidence of their U.S. loyalty and property losses. The applications of claimants (successful or not), testimony, and the SCC papers provide excellent historical background information about Southern life during the Civil War.
Although only a few people per county qualified for a settlement, the application papers of the Southern Claims Commission typically include questions mentioning hundreds of their neighbors. Neighbors of all races, and classes were questioned and discussed in SCC records, potentially including: