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R. M. Peoples Loyalty Oath

Identifier: MS-0055

  • Staff Only

R. M. Peoples, a Sullivan County farmer, wrote a loyalty oath to the State of Tennessee and to the United States that he would abide by the laws under the Constitution, the laws made during the Civil War (1861-1865), and the promises of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). The document contains a stamp or certificate for five cents from the U.S. Internal Revenue with George Washington’s face printed upon it.


  • 1865 November 22

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact Special Collections.


0.1 Linear Feet


The collection consists of a one half-page oath from R. M. Peoples to the State of Tennessee, declaring his faithfulness to the Constitution of the United States, laws made during the Civil War, and the promises of the Emancipation Proclamation on November 22, 1865.

Biographical/Historical Note

A loyalty oath was a piece of parchment on which the individual would sign their name and pledge loyalty to the Union during and/or after the Civil War to affirm that the signer would perform no treasonous or harmful act towards the Union.

Abraham Lincoln’s attorney general, Edward Bates, began to use loyalty or test oaths for the federal government offices in 1861 and these oaths would be used continuously throughout the Civil War and the Reconstruction era. These loyalty or test oaths would be used frequently with former Confederate soldiers, the border states, and government offices to reaffirm the signer’s loyalty to the Union before they carried-on with any profession, job, or livelihood.

As a part of Lincoln’s 10 Percent Plan, issued in December of 1863, the federal government began to create new state and local governments in former Confederate states, and to ensure their fealty to the Union, 10% of the white male population (that could vote) had to take the oath and pledge their loyalty. For most loyalty oaths, the signer had to agree to obey the laws of local government, the provisions of laws involving slavery (Emancipation Proclamation and the Fourteenth Amendment), and the Constitution.


This material is in one folder.

Acquisition Note

Gifted by Mrs. Mary Coffey on July 24, 1931.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA