Confederate States of America

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For other meanings of confederate and confederacy, see confederacy (disambiguation)
Confederate States of America
3rd flag of the Confederate States of America Missing image
Confederate States of America Seal

(Confederate Flag) (Confederate Seal)
National Motto
Deo Vindice
(Latin: Under God our Vindicator)
Official language
English de facto nationwide

Various European and Native American languages regionally

Capital Montgomery, Alabama
February 4, 1861May 29, 1861
Richmond, Virginia
May 29, 1861April 9, 1865
Danville, Virginia
April 3April 10, 1865
Largest city New Orleans
February 4, 1861 until captured May 1, 1862
President Jefferson Davis
 - Total
 - % water
(excl. MO & KY)
1,995,392 km²
 - 1860 Census (

 - Density
(excl. MO & KY)
(including 3,521,110 slaves)
 - Declared
 - Recognized
 - Surrender and Dissolution
see Civil War
February 4, 1861
only by the Duchy of
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
April 9, 1865-July 15, 1870
Currency CSA dollar (only notes issued)
US dollar
National anthem God Save the South (Unofficial)

Dixie (Popular)

The Confederate States of America (CSA, also known as the Confederacy) was the political entity originally formed on February 4, 1861 by six Southern slave states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana). Jefferson Davis was selected as its first President the next day. Texas joined early in March and then replaced its governor, Sam Houston, when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. These seven states seceded1 from the United States and took control of military/naval installations, ports, and custom houses within their boundaries, triggering the American Civil War. Following the Battle of Fort Sumter four more states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) joined the Confederacy for a total of 11. The governments of Missouri and Kentucky remained in the Union, but rival factions from those two states were also accepted as members of the Confederacy. The number of Confederate states is thus sometimes considered to be 13. For most of its duration the Confederacy was engaged in the Civil War, mostly in defense against attacks by larger Union forces.

The five tribal governments of the Indian Territory—which became Oklahoma in 1907—also mainly supported the Confederacy. The Gadsden Purchase became Arizona Territory. These first settlers petitioned the Confederate government for annexation of their lands, prompting an expedition in which territory south of the 34th parallel was governed by the Confederacy.

In 1861 martial law was declared in Maryland (the state which surrounds the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C.) to block attempts at secession. Delaware, also a slave state, never considered secession. In 1863, during the war, a unionist rump legislature in Wheeling, Virginia seceded from Virginia, claiming 48 counties, and joined the United States as the state of West Virginia, with a constitution that would have gradually abolished slavery[1] ( Similar attempts to secede from the Confederacy (notably in eastern Tennessee) were held in check by Confederacy declarations of martial law[2] ([3] (


Structure and government

The Confederate States Constitution provides much insight into the motivations for secession from the Union. Based to a certain extent on both the Articles of Confederation and on the United States Constitution, it reflected a stronger philosophy of states' rights, curtailing the power of the central authority, and also contained explicit protection of the institution of slavery, though international slave trade was prohibited. It differed from the US Constitution chiefly by addressing the grievances of the secessionist states against the federal government of the United States. For example, the Confederate government was prohibited from instituting protective tariffs, making southern ports more attractive to international traders. Prior to the declarations of secession, most southerners regarded protective tariffs as a measure that enriched the northern states at the expense of the south. The Confederate government was also prohibited from using revenues collected in one state for funding internal improvements in another state. At the same time, however, much of the Confederate constitution was a word-for-word duplicate of the US one.

At the drafting of the Constitution of the Confederacy, a few radical proposals such as allowing only slave states to join and the reinstatement of the Atlantic slave trade were turned down. The Constitution specifically did not include a provision allowing states to secede, since the southerners considered this to be a right intrinsic to a sovereign state which the United States Constitution had not required them to renounce, and thus including it as such would have weakened their original argument for secession.

The President of the Confederacy was to be elected to a six-year term and could not be reelected. The only president was Jefferson Davis; the Confederacy was defeated by Union forces before he could finish out his term. One unique power granted to the Confederate president was the ability to subject a bill to a line item veto, a power held by some state governors. The Confederate Congress could overturn either the general or the line item vetoes with the same two thirds majorities that are required in the US Congress.

Printing currency in bills and stamps was authorized and put into circulation, although by the individual states in the Confederacy's name. The government considered issuing Confederate coinage. Plans, dies and 4 "proofs" were created, but a lack of bullion prevented any public coinage.

Although the preamble refers to "each State acting in its sovereign and independent character", it also refers to the formation of a "permanent federal government". Also, although slavery was protected in the constitution, it also prohibited the importation of new slaves from outside the Confederacy.

The Capital

  1. Montgomery, Alabama, from February 4, 1861, until May 29, 1861, when it was moved to
  2. Richmond, Virginia (named the new capital on May 6, 1861).
  3. Shortly before the end of the war the Confederate government evacuated Richmond with plans to relocate further south to Atlanta, Georgia, or to Columbia, South Carolina, but little came of this before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House.
  4. Danville, Virginia, served from April 3 to April 10, 1865, as the last capital of the Confederacy.

International Diplomacy and Legal Status

The legal status of the Confederate Government was a subject of extensive debate throughout its existence and for many years after the war. During its existence, the Confederate government conducted negotiations with several European powers (including France and the United Kingdom), and it received material support from Britain. The Confederacy received formal diplomatic recognition only by Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the brother of Prince Albert and brother-in-law to Queen Victoria. The UK came close to recognizing the Confederacy during the Trent Affair and began preparations to offer mediation along with France (due to Emperor Napoleon III's project, the Mexican Empire), but both nations backed away after the Battle of Antietam and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Throughout the war most European powers adopted a policy of neutrality, meeting informally with Confederate diplomats but withholding diplomatic recognition. In its place, they applied international law principles that recognized the Northern and Southern sides of the war as belligerents. Canada allowed both Confederate and Union agents to work openly within its borders and some state governments in northern Mexico negotiated regional agreements to cover trade on the Texas border.

For the four years of its existence, the Confederacy asserted its independence and appointed dozens of diplomatic agents abroad. The Northern government, by contrast, asserted that the southern states were provinces in rebellion and refused any formal recognition of their status. Telling of this dispute, the Confederate Government responded to the hostilities by formally declaring war on the United States while the Union Government conducted its war efforts under a proclamation of blockade and rebellion by President Lincoln. Mid-war negotiations between the two sides occurred without formal political recognition, though the laws of war governed military relationships.

Four years after the war the United States Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White that secession was unconstitutional and legally null. The court's opinion was rendered by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, the former Treasury Secretary under Lincoln. Chase's opinion was immediately attacked and remains controversial to this day. Critics such as Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens penned subsequent legal arguments in favor of secession's legality, most notably Davis' Rise and Decline of the Confederate Government.

Confederate flag

Main article: Confederate flag

Stars and Bars
Stars and Bars
Southern Cross
Southern Cross

The official flag of the Confederacy, and the one actually called the "Stars and Bars", was sometimes hard to distinguish from the Union flag under battle conditions, so the Confederate battle flag, the "Southern Cross," became the one more commonly used in military operations. As a result, the "Southern Cross" is a flag commonly associated with the Confederacy today. The actual "Southern Cross" is a square shaped flag, but the more commonly seen rectangular flag is actually the flag of the First Tennessee Army. The Stars and Bars had seven stars, for the seven states that initially formed the Confederacy; the Southern Cross had 13 stars, adding the four states that joined the Confederacy after Fort Sumter, and the two states of Kentucky and Missouri (See Missouri Secession) with competing unionist and secessionist governments that were admitted to the Confederacy.

Significant dates

State Secession Ordinance Admitted C.S. Readmitted U.S. Local rule reestablished
South Carolina December 20, 1860 February 4, 1861 July 9, 1868 November 28, 1876
Mississippi January 9, 1861 February 4, 1861 February 23, 1870 January 4, 1876
Florida January 10, 1861 February 4, 1861 June 25, 1868 January 2, 1877
Alabama January 11, 1861 February 4, 1861 July 14, 1868 November 16, 1874
Georgia January 19, 1861 February 4, 1861 July 15, 1870 November 1, 1871
Louisiana January 26, 1861 February 4, 1861 June 25, 1868
or July 9, 1868
January 2, 1877
Texas February 1, 1861 March 2, 1861 March 30, 1870 January 14, 1873
Virginia April 17, 1861 May 7, 1861 January 26, 1870 October 5, 1869
Arkansas May 6, 1861 May 18, 1861 June 22, 1868 November 10, 1874
Tennessee May 6, 1861 May 16, 1861 July 24, 1866 October 4, 1869
North Carolina May 21, 1861 May 16, 1861 July 4, 1868 February 2, 1871
Missouri (Jackson government) October 31, 1861 August 19, 1861 n/a n/a
Kentucky (Russellville government) November 20, 1861 December 10, 1862 n/a n/a

Political leaders of the Confederacy

Armed Forces

The military armed forces of the Confederacy comprised the following three branches:

The Confederate military leadership was almost entirely composed of veterans from the United States Army and U.S. Navy who had resigned from their U.S. ranks and had been appointed to senior positions in the Confederate armed forces. The Confederate officer corps was composed mostly of southern aristocrats, and the Confederacy appointed junior and field grade officers by election from the enlisted ranks. There was no Army or Naval service academy for the Confederate armed forces; however, many colleges of the south (such as the Virginia Military Institute) maintained cadet corps which were seen as a breeding ground for Confederate military leadership.

The rank and file of the Confederate armed forces consisted of white males with an average age between 16 and 28. Towards the end of the Civil War, boys as young as 12 were fighting in combat roles and the Confederate Armed Forces had even sponsored an all black regiment with measures underway to offer freedom to slaves who voluntary served in the Confederate military.

Military leaders of the Confederacy

See also

Further reading

External links

de:Konfderierte Staaten von Amerika eo:Konfederaciitaj Ŝtatoj de Ameriko fr:tats confdrs d'Amrique hr:Konfederativne Države Amerike he:קונפדרציית המדינות של אמריקה nl:Geconfedereerde Staten van Amerika ja:アメリカ連合国 pl:Skonfederowane Stany Ameryki ru:Конфедеративные штаты Америки fi:Etelvaltiot sv:Amerikas konfedererade stater zh:美国南方邦联


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