Confederate States of America
During the early 1800's, in the United States, many differences developed between people who lived in the North and those who lived in the South. The southern states wanted states to have more rights than the federal government. They didn't want the federal government to tell them what to do. They wanted to continue to own slaves. They wanted new territories to be made slave states. Northerners wanted to abolish slavery and wanted the federal government to make laws for the whole country. For the Southerners, the matter of slavery was a political as well as an economic problem.
The South decided it had no choice but to pull out of the union of states. South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860. Six other states followed suit. The states formed a new nation called the Confederate States of America. They chose Jefferson Davis as their President and made Montgomery, Alabama, their capital. Jefferson Davis was from Mississippi. He had served in the Mexican War and had been a secretary of war for the United States. Davis chose Alexander Stephens of Georgia as his vice-president. He had previously served in the House of Representatives in Washington.
President Lincoln immediately asked for 75,000 volunteers to fight against the states which had seceded. After that action, four more states seceded. Forty-eight counties in the western part of Virginia decided to remain loyal to the union and broke off. They became the state of West Virginia. After Virginia joined the Confederacy, the capital of the new government was moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia.
The Constitution which the Confederate States adopted was almost the same as the U. S. Constitution. However, the President served one 6-year term but could be reelected. Another difference from the U. S. Constitution was that the President could veto parts of any bill submitted to him for approval and approve others. Cabinet members became non-voting members of Congress. A Supreme Court was not set up because those in power couldn't decide on what form it would take.
The Confederate Constitution made some provisions to make sure that the states had rights of their own. Each state could raise and keep an army. They could change provisions of the constitution. The central government of the Confederacy could not collect many kinds of taxes. It could not overrule decisions made by state courts. It was limited to certain types of physical improvements of the country itself, like lighthouses and ports and harbors.
No law could be passed prohibiting slavery. No slave would be free just by escaping to another state. New territories had to accept slavery. Citizens could travel with their slaves and not fear loss of their right to own them. The states limited the power of the central government to make war. States could refuse to send soldiers if they needed them at home. The central government had limited power to raise money. This was a problem during the war when money was necessary for troops and supplies.
The Confederate government in Richmond fell on April 2, 1865. President Davis and his cabinet left and took what money they had. They planned to set up a new capital west of the Mississippi River. However, Davis was captured on May 10 near Irwinville, Georgia. The Confederate States of America had lasted only four years. Many wonder if this government would have been able to survive even if the South had won the war. Some states were already complaining about the administration of President Davis. There was a great deal of quarreling within the administration itself. Davis argued with the Congress. Some senators got into fights. The Vice-President refused to live in the same state as the President. Davis also interfered with generals out in battle.
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