Confederate States of America
- For other meanings of confederate and confederacy, see confederacy (disambiguation). For the fictional documentary about alternative history, see C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America
(Latin: With God As Our Vindicator)
| Anthem: |
God Save the South (unofficial)
|Capital|| Montgomery, Alabama|
February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861
May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865
April 3–April 10, 1865
|Largest city|| New Orleans|
February 4, 1861 until captured May 1, 1862
|Official language|| |
English de facto nationwide
| Federal republic|
- % water
| (excl. MO & KY)|
- 1860 Census
| (excl. MO & KY)|
(including 3,521,110 slaves)
|see Civil War|
February 4, 1861
only by the Duchy of
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
April 9, 1865
|Currency|| CSA dollar (only notes issued)|
The Confederate States of America—also referred to as the Confederate States, CSA, the Confederacy and Dixie (colloquially)—was a country that existed between 1861 and 1865 in North America, comprising states that seceded from the United States of America. The territory of the CSA consisted of most of the southeastern portion of today's United States. As its existence was contested by the United States for the whole of its brief history, there was never a definitive delineation of Confederate States' northern boundary. Its southern land boundary was with Mexico. It was otherwise bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
For most of its life the Confederacy was engaged in the Civil War against the Union forces, mostly in defense. However, the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee, also made limited incursions into Union territory.
- Main article: American Civil War
The Confederate States were formed on February 4, 1861, by six Southern states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana) after confirmation of the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Jefferson Davis was selected as its first President the next day.
Texas joined the Confederacy on March 2 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.
A month after the Confederacy was formed, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called the secession "legally void". He stated he had no intent to invade southern states, but would use force to maintain possession of federal property and collection of various federal taxes, duties and imposts. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union.
On April 12 South Carolina troops fired upon the Federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina until the troops surrendered. Following the Battle of Fort Sumter, Lincoln called for all remaining states in the Union to send troops to recapture Sumter and other forts, defend the capital, and preserve the Union. Most Northerners believed that a quick victory for the Union would crush the nascent rebellion, and so Lincoln only called for volunteers for 90 days. This resulted in four more states voting to secede: Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina joined the Confederacy for a total of 11. Once Virginia seceded, the Confederate capital was moved from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia
Kentucky was a border state during the American Civil War and for a time had two state governments, one supporting the Confederacy and one supporting the Union. Fittingly, the Presidents of both the United States (Abraham Lincoln) and the Confederate States (Jefferson Davis) during the Civil War were born in Kentucky. The original government of Kentucky remained in the Union after a short-lived attempt at neutrality, but a rival faction from that state was also accepted as members of the Confederacy. A more complex situation surrounds the Missouri Secession, but in any event Missouri was also considered a member of the Confederate States. With Kentucky and Missouri, the number of Confederate states is thus sometimes considered to be 13.
The five tribal governments of the Indian Territory—which became Oklahoma in 1907—also mainly supported the Confederacy. The southern part of New Mexico Territory (including parts of the Gadsden Purchase) joined with the Confederacy as 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. Arizona troops were also officially recognized within the armies of the Confederacy.
Preceding his New Mexico Campaign, General Sibley issued a proclamation to the people of New Mexico his intentions of taking possession of the territory in the name of the Confederate States. Confederate troops briefly occupied the territorial capital of Santa Fe between March 13 and April 8, 1862.
Not all jurisdictions where slavery was still legal joined the Confederacy. In 1861 martial law was declared in Maryland (the state which borders the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C., on three sides) to block attempts at secession. Delaware, also a slave state, never considered secession, nor did the capital of the U.S., Washington, D.C.. In 1861, during the war, a unionist rump legislature in Wheeling, Virginia seceded from Virginia, claiming 48 counties, and joined the United States in 1863 as the state of West Virginia, with a constitution that would have gradually abolished slavery. Similar attempts to secede from the Confederacy in parts of other states (notably in eastern Tennessee) were held in check by Confederacy declarations of martial law.
The surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia by General Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 is generally taken as the end of the Confederate States. President Davis was captured at Irwinville, Georgia on May 10 and the remaining Confederate armies surrendered by June 1865. The last Confederate flag was hauled down on CSS Shenandoah on November 6, 1865.
Government and politics
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 trading 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. 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 the federal government before he completed 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.
Printed currency in the forms of 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 (except from slaveholding states or territories of the United States).
The capital of the Confederacy was Montgomery, Alabama, from February 4, 1861, until May 29, 1861, when it was moved to Richmond, Virginia (named the new capital on May 6, 1861). 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 and 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). The Confederacy received formal diplomatic recognition only from Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the ruler of a minor German principality. 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 Fall of the Confederate Government.
- Main article: Flags of the Confederate States of America
"Stars and Bars"
- Confederate Battle Flag.svg
- Battle flag of the US Confederacy.svg
The official flag of the Confederacy, and the one actually called the "Stars and Bars", has seven stars, for the seven states that initially formed the Confederacy. This flag 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. The Southern Cross has 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. As a result of its depiction in 20th century popular media, 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, also known as the Naval Jack because it was first used by the Confederate Navy.
Political leaders of the Confederacy
|Vice President||Alexander Stephens||1861–1865|
|Secretary of State||Robert Toombs||1861|
|Robert M.T. Hunter||1861–1862|
|Judah P. Benjamin||1862–1865|
|Secretary of the Treasury||Christopher Memminger||1861–1864|
|Secretary of War||Leroy Pope Walker||1861|
|Judah P. Benjamin||1861–1862|
|George W. Randolph||1862|
|Gustavus Smith (acting)||1862|
|John C. Breckinridge||1865|
|Secretary of the Navy||Stephen Mallory||1861–1865|
|Postmaster General||John H. Reagan||1861–1865|
|Attorney General||Judah P. Benjamin||1861|
- Confederate Congress
A judicial branch of the government was outlined in the C.S. Constitution but the would-be Supreme Court of the Confederate States was never created or seated because of the ongoing war. Some lower district courts were, however, established within some of the individual states of the Confederacy; namely, AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, TN, TX & VA (and possibly others). At the end of the war, U.S. district courts resumed jurisdiction. The state and local courts generally continued to operate as they had been, simply recognizing the CSA rather than the USA as the national government.
The Confederate States had a total of 2,919 miles (4,698 kilometers) of coastline. A large portion of its territory lay on the sea coast, and with level and sandy ground. The interior portions were hilly and mountainous and the far western territories were deserts. The lower reaches of the Mississippi River bisected the country, with the western half often referred to as the Trans-Mississippi. The highest point (excluding Arizona and New Mexico) was Guadalupe Peak in Texas at 8,750 feet (2,667 meters).
Most of the area of the Confederate States had a humid subtropical climate with mild winters and long, hot, humid summers. The climate varied to semiarid steppe and arid desert west of longitude 96 degrees west.
The Confederate States was less urbanized than the northern states, with only New Orleans showing up in the list of top 10 U.S. cities in the 1860 census. Only 15 cities (excluding those in Kentucky and Missouri) ranked among the top 100 US cities in 1860. The population of Richmond swelled after it became the national capital, reaching an estimated 128,000 in 1864.
|#||City||1860 Population||US Rank|
|1.||New Orleans, Louisiana||168,675||6|
|2.||Charleston, South Carolina||40,522||22|
|15.||Wilmington, North Carolina||9,553||100|
- Main article: Economy of the Confederate States of America
The Confederate States had an agrarian-based economy that relied heavily on slavery plantations. The main products of the CSA were cotton, rice, tobacco and sugar cane, with some cattle and much grain. The states that formed the CSA (excluding Missouri and Kentucky) produced $155 million in manufactured goods in 1860; their main products were flour and meal, lumber, processed tobacco, cotton goods and naval stores. The CSA adopted a free trade policy, but this was undermined by the Union blockade. The lack of adequate financial resources led the Confederacy to finance the war through printing money, which in turn led to high inflation.
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 their federal commissions and had been appointed to senior positions in the Confederate armed forces. The Confederate officer corps was composed mostly of southern gentry, and the Confederacy appointed junior and field grade officers by election from the enlisted ranks. Although no Army service academy was established for the Confederacy, many colleges of the south (such as the Virginia Military Institute) maintained cadet corps that were seen as a breeding ground for Confederate military leadership. A naval academy was established in 1863 onboard CSS Patrick Henry in the James River, but no midshipmen had graduated by the time the Confederacy collapsed.
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 voluntarily served in the Confederate military.
Military leaders of the Confederacy
- Robert E. Lee (Virginia) - General and Military Commander-in-Chief
- Albert Sidney Johnston (Kentucky) - General
- Joseph E. Johnston (Virginia) - General
- Braxton Bragg (North Carolina) - General
- P.G.T. Beauregard (Louisiana) - General
- Samuel Cooper (New Jersey) - General (Adjutant General and highest ranking general in the Army)
- James Longstreet (South Carolina) - Lt. General
- Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (Virginia) - Lt. General
- John Hunt Morgan (Kentucky) - General
- A.P. Hill (Virginia) - Lt. General
- John Bell Hood (Texas) - Lt. General
- Wade Hampton (South Carolina) Lt. General
- Nathan Bedford Forrest (Tennessee) - Lt. General
- J.E.B. Stuart (Virginia) - Maj. General
- Edward Porter Alexander (Georgia) - Brig. General
- Franklin Buchanan (Maryland) - Admiral
- Raphael Semmes (Maryland) - Rear Admiral
- French Forrest (Maryland) - Acting Assistant Secretary of the Confederate Navy
- Josiah Tattnall (Georgia) - Commodore
- Stand Watie (Indian Territory, now Oklahoma) - Brigadier General (last to surrender)
- Leonidas Polk (Tennessee & Louisiana) - Bishop & General
- Jubal Anderson Early (Virginia)- Lt. General
NOTE: According to the New York Public Library Desk Reference, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina were all readmitted June 25, 1868, and Georgia was readmitted a second time on July 15, 1870.
- Nullification Crisis of 1832
- Flags of the Confederate States of America
- Seal of the Confederate States of America
- Military history of the Confederate States
- Stamps and postal history of the Confederate States
- Origins of the American Civil War
- Border states
- Robert E. Lee
- Civil War Research & Discussion Group - Fields Of Conflict - Containing 1000+ Links And 350+ Articles.
- America's Caesar: The Decline and Fall of Republican Government in the United States of America, 2005, an online book detailing the events which led up to and followed the War Between the States
- The Confederate Reprint Company, offers the largest internet selection of paperback reprints of rare and out-of-print Confederate literature
- An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Luxuries, or of Articles not Necessary or of Common Use, 1864, a Confederate Congress document
- Confederate States of Am. Army and Navy Uniforms, 1861
- The Countryman, 1862-1866, published weekly by Turnwold, Ga., edited by J.A. Turner
- The Federal and the Confederate Constitution Compared
- The Making of the Confederate Constitution, by A. L. Hull, 1905.
- Official Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana, November, 1861
- Photographic History of the Civil War, 10 vols., 1912.
- Preventing Diplomatic Recognition of the Confederacy
- DocSouth: Documenting the American South - numerous online text, image, and audio collections.
- Confederate States of America: Heads of State: 1861-1865
- The League of the Southca:Estats Confederats d'Amèrica
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