Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Confederate States of America
The government for the Confederate States of America was organized and named in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 4, 1861. Six southern states seceded or left the government of the United States in 1860 and 1861 after Abraham Lincoln was elected President but before he was in office. They feared that his election might cause problems with their right to own slaves. South Carolina was the first state to withdraw from the Union on December 20, 1860. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana followed in January 1861. Texas seceded in March 1861 and was followed later in the year by Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. This made eleven states in the Confederacy. The South did not invent the idea of a state withdrawing from the Union. It was a common belief throughout the United States that individual states had formed the Union and therefore had the right to dissolve. In fact, there were states in New England who wanted to secede during the War of 1812 because they did not want the war. When the first six states organized the Confederate States of America, they chose Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as President and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia as Vice President. Their term of office was one year. After the permanent constitution was adopted, they were elected to six-year terms. Six distinguished Southerners were selected for the Cabinet. The temporary capital was Montgomery. After Virginia joined in the secession movement, Richmond became the capital in May. "The Constitution of the Confederacy adopted in March 1861, was modeled after the United States Constitution. But it contained six important differences. 1) The president's and vice president's terms were six years. The president could not serve successive terms. 2) Cabinet members received seats in Congress and had the privilege of debate. But they could not vote. 3) Foreign slave trade was ended but not slavery. 4) Congress was forbidden to make appropriations for internal improvements, to levy a protective tariff, or to give bounties. 5) A two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress was necessary to admit a new state into the Confederacy or to make appropriations not requested by the heads of departments through the president. 6) The president could veto single items in appropriation bills" (Thomas L. Connelly). The states that seceded hoped to leave the Union peaceably, and there were people on both sides of the issue who worked hard to prevent war. All their efforts failed when Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12, 1861, to start the Civil War. There were slave states, known as the border states, that did not leave the Union. They were located between the North and the Deep South. Both the North and the South tried to gain their support. North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee joined the Confederacy while Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri stayed in the Union. Later in the war West Virginia was formed when the western counties of Virginia seceded from the South. The states of Kentucky and Missouri were both divided. Even though both states stayed in the Union, each had secessionist groups that set up separate state governments. These groups sent representatives to the Confederate Congress, which is the reason why the Confederate flag has thirteen stars on it when only eleven states seceded. Confederate ships were granted the same privileges as United States ships in foreign ports and on the open seas even though they were not recognized as a separate nation. Before the division, the wealth of the United States was mainly in the North, and the South did not have sufficient resources to be taxed. This caused the Confederacy to be at a financial disadvantage in the war. It began printing money early in the war, but the paper was soon worthless. Southerners bought government bonds and gave liberally to the Confederacy, but even their loyal financial support could not create resources that didn't exist. During the early part of the war, the Confederates were winning. Union forces lost at Fredericksburg in December 1862. Northern armies had better access to materials and supplies and gradually turned the tide, starting in 1863. Union forces had ammunition, food and clothing supplied while Confederates often went without vital supplies. Richmond fell to Union troops on April 3, 1865, and the Confederate capital moved to Danville, Virginia. The Army of Northern Virginia, which was the main Confederate army, surrendered on April 9, 1865. Confederates believed that the way of life that they were defending was good, and they made great sacrifices in life, health, and property in the war. They finally had to yield to a greater force. The Civil War left a spiritual wound in the Union, which took many years to heal. The spirit of the nation was mostly healed by the early 1900's even though problems concerning race continue to plague this country. I hope and pray that the day soon comes when all Americans will understand that we are all brothers and sisters, spiritual children of one God who are all created equal. Facts for this post came from an article by Thomas L. Connelly in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp 931-933.