|Confederate States Constitution|
Page one of the original copy of the Constitution
|Created||March 11, 1861|
|Ratified||March 29, 1861|
|Date effective||February 22, 1862|
|Location|| University of Georgia,|
Athens, Georgia, U.S.
|Signatories||43 of the 50 deputies|
|Purpose||To replace the Provisional Constitution (1861)|
The Confederate States Constitution, formally the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, was the supreme law of the Confederate States, as adopted on March 11, 1861, and in effect from February 22, 1862, through the conclusion of the American Civil War.The Confederacy also operated under a Provisional Constitution from February 8, 1861, to February 22, 1862. The original Provisional Constitution is currently located at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, and differs slightly from the version later adopted. The final, hand-written document is currently located in the University of Georgia archives at Athens, Georgia. In regard to most articles of the Constitution, the document is a word-for-word duplicate of the United States Constitution. However, there are crucial differences between the two documents, in tone and legal content, primarily regarding slavery.
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
The Confederate States of America, commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was an unrecognized country in North America that existed from 1861 to 1865. The Confederacy was originally formed by seven secessionist slave-holding states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—in the Lower South region of the United States, whose economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of African-American slaves.
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.
The Confederate Constitution followed the U.S. Constitution for the most part in the main body of the text with some changes.
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise reached among state delegates during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention. Whether, and if so, how, slaves would be counted when determining a state's total population for legislative representation and taxing purposes was important, as this population number would then be used to determine the number of seats that the state would have in the United States House of Representatives for the next ten years. The compromise solution was to count three out of every five slaves as a person for this purpose. Its effect was to give the southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free people had been counted equally. The compromise was proposed by delegate James Wilson and seconded by Charles Pinckney on June 11, 1787.
- But Congress may, by law, grant to the principal officer in each of the Executive Departments a seat upon the floor of either House, with the privilege of discussing any measures appertaining to his department.
- The Congress shall have power – To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises for revenue, necessary to pay the debts, provide for the common defense, and carry on the Government of the Confederate States; but no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury; nor shall any duties or taxes on importations from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry; and all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the Confederate States.
- The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Article I Section 8(3) adds quite a bit to the U.S. Constitution in an attempt to block the Confederate Congress from passing law to "facilitate commerce"with some exceptions allowing for safety and improvement to waterways.
- To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.
- To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes; but neither this, nor any other clause contained in the constitution, shall ever be construed to delegate the power to Congress to appropriate money for any internal improvement intended to facilitate commerce; except for the purpose of furnishing lights, beacons, and buoys, and other aids to navigation upon the coasts, and the improvement of harbors and the removing of obstructions in river navigation, in all which cases, such duties shall be laid on the navigation facilitated thereby, as may be necessary to pay the costs and expenses thereof.
- Congress shall appropriate no money from the treasury except by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses, taken by yeas and nays, unless it be asked and estimated for by some one of the heads of Department, and submitted to Congress by the President; or for the purpose of paying its own expenses and contingencies; or for the payment of claims against the Confederate States, the justice of which shall have been judicially declared by a tribunal for the investigation of claims against the government, which it is hereby made the duty of Congress to establish.
- All bills appropriating money shall specify in federal currency the exact amount of each appropriation and the purposes for which it is made; and Congress shall grant no extra compensation to any public contractor, officer, agent or servant, after such contract shall have been made or such service rendered.
- Every law or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title.
Then in Section 10:
- No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty on tonnage, except on sea-going vessels, for the improvement of its rivers and harbors navigated by the said vessels; but such duties shall not conflict with any treaties of the Confederate States with foreign nations; and any surplus revenue, thus derived, shall, after making such improvement, be paid into the common treasury. Nor shall any state keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay. But when any river divides or flows through two or more States, they may enter into compacts with each other to improve the navigation thereof.
Changes to Article II:
Changes to Article III
Changes to Article IV
Other states may be admitted into this Confederacy by a vote of two-thirds of the whole House of Representatives, and two-thirds of the Senate, the Senate voting by states; but no new state shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.
Changes to Article V
Changes to Article VI
Article VI Section 1(1)
- The Government established by this Constitution is the successor of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America, and all the laws passed by the latter shall continue in force until the same shall be repealed or modified; and all the officers appointed by the same shall remain in office until their successors are appointed and qualified, or the offices abolished.
Changes to Article VII
When five states shall have ratified this Constitution, in the manner before specified, the Congress under the Provisional Constitution, shall prescribe the time for holding the election of President and Vice President; and, for the meeting of the Electoral College; and, for counting the votes, and inaugurating the President. They shall, also, prescribe the time for holding the first election of members of Congress under this Constitution, and the time for assembling the same. Until the assembling of such Congress, the Congress under the Provisional Constitution shall continue to exercise the legislative powers granted them; not extending beyond the time limited by the Constitution of the Provisional Government.
There are several major differences between the U.S. and Confederate constitutions concerning slavery.
- Article I Section 9(1)
- The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country, other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.
- The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
- Article I Section 9(2)
- Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.
- Article I Section 9(4)
- No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.
- Article IV Section 2(1)
- The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.
- Article IV Section 3(3)
- The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several states; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.
Some todayfeel that the Confederate Constitution's Preamble including the phrase "each State acting in its sovereign and independent character" focuses the new Constitution on the rights of the individual States.
The Confederate States gain several rights that the U.S. states did not have. For example, they gained the right to impeach federal judges and other federal officers if they worked or lived solely in their state.
- Article I Section 2(5)
- The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment; except that any judicial or other federal officer, resident and acting solely within the limits of any state, may be impeached by a vote of two-thirds of both branches of the Legislature thereof.
- Article I Section 10(1)
- No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts; or grant any title of nobility.
- No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
- Article I Section 9(7)
- No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another.
- No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
- Article I Section 10(3)
- No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty on tonnage, except on seagoing vessels, for the improvement of its rivers and harbors navigated by the said vessels; but such duties shall not conflict with any treaties of the Confederate States with foreign nations; and any surplus revenue thus derived shall, after making such improvement, be paid into the common treasury.
- Nor shall any State keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay. But when any river divides or flows through two or more States they may enter into compacts with each other to improve the navigation thereof.
The Confederate States lose a few rights that the U.S. states retained.
- Article I Section 9(6)
- No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State, except by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses.
The signers and the states they represented were:
Congress began to move for ratification of the Confederate States Constitution on March 11, 1861:
|1||March 13, 1861|
|2||March 16, 1861|
|3||March 21, 1861|
|4||March 23, 1861|
|5||March 29, 1861|
|6||April 3, 1861|
|7||April 22, 1861|
Although the Confederate States Supreme Court was never constituted, the supreme courts of the various Confederate states issued numerous decisions interpreting the Confederate Constitution. Unsurprisingly, given that the Confederate Constitution was based on the United States Constitution, the Confederate State Supreme Courts often used United States Supreme Court precedents. The jurisprudence of the Marshall Court, thus, influenced the interpretation of the Confederate Constitution. The state courts repeatedly upheld robust powers of the Confederate Congress, especially on matters of military necessity.
According to an 1861 speech delivered by Alabamian politician Robert Hardy Smith, the State of Alabama declared its secession from the U.S. in order to preserve and perpetuate the practice of slavery, the debate over which he referred to as the "Negro quarrel". In the speech, Smith praised the Confederate constitution for its un-euphemistic and succinct protections of the right to own "Negro" slaves:
We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the negro quarrel. Now, is there any man who wished to reproduce that strife among ourselves? And yet does not he, who wished the slave trade left for the action of Congress, see that he proposed to open a Pandora's box among us and to cause our political arena again to resound with this discussion. Had we left the question unsettled, we should, in my opinion, have sown broadcast the seeds of discord and death in our Constitution. I congratulate the country that the strife has been put to rest forever, and that American slavery is to stand before the world as it is, and on its own merits. We have now placed our domestic institution, and secured its rights unmistakably, in the Constitution. We have sought by no euphony to hide its name. We have called our negroes 'slaves', and we have recognized and protected them as persons and our rights to them as property.— Robert Hardy Smith, An Address to the Citizens of Alabama on the Constitution and Laws of the Confederate States of America, 1861.
Georgia Democrat Alexander H. Stephens, who would become the Confederacy's vice president, stated within his Cornerstone Speech that the Confederate constitution was "decidedly better than" the American one, as it "put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution. African slavery as it exists amongst us; the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the 'rock upon which the old Union would split.' He was right."
The Emancipation Proclamation, or Proclamation 95, was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. It changed the federal legal status of more than 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the designated areas of the South from slave to free. As soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, the former slave became free. Ultimately, the rebel surrender liberated and resulted in the proclamation's application to all of the designated former slaves. It did not cover slaves in Union areas that were freed by state action. It was issued as a war measure during the American Civil War, directed to all of the areas in rebellion and all segments of the executive branch of the United States.
Article Four of the United States Constitution outlines the relationship between the various states, as well as the relationship between each state and the United States federal government. It also empowers Congress to admit new states and administer the territories and other federal lands.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. In Congress, it was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865. The amendment was ratified by the required number of states on December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed its adoption. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.
The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 is a United States federal law that stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. It took effect in 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is the controlling government document of Puerto Rico. It is composed of nine articles detailing the structure of the government as well as the function of several of its institutions. The document also contains an extensive and specific bill of rights. Since Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, the Puerto Rico Constitution is bound to adhere to the postulates of the U.S. Constitution due to the Supremacy Clause, and of relevant Federal legislation due to the Territorial Clause.
In American political discourse, states' rights are political powers held for the state governments rather than the federal government according to the United States Constitution, reflecting especially the enumerated powers of Congress and the Tenth Amendment. The enumerated powers that are listed in the Constitution include exclusive federal powers, as well as concurrent powers that are shared with the states, and all of those powers are contrasted with the reserved powers—also called states' rights—that only the states possess.
In the history of the United States, a slave state was a U.S. state in which the practice of slavery was legal, and a free state was one in which slavery was prohibited or being legally phased out. Historically, in the 17th century, slavery was established in a number of English overseas possessions. In the 18th century, it existed in all the British colonies of North America. In 1776, slavery was legal throughout the Thirteen Colonies; starting with Pennsylvania in 1780, about half the states abolished slavery during the Revolutionary War or in the first decades of the new country. Slavery became a divisive issue; it was a major issue during the writing of the U.S. Constitution, and slavery was the primary cause of the American Civil War. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in December 1865, abolished slavery throughout all of the United States.
The Corwin Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would shield "domestic institutions" of the states from the federal constitutional amendment process and from abolition or interference by Congress. Although the Corwin Amendment does not explicitly mention slavery, it was designed specifically to protect slavery from federal power. Congress proposed the Corwin Amendment on March 2, 1861, shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War, but it was not ratified by the requisite number of states.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 was an Act of the United States Congress to give effect to the Fugitive Slave Clause of the US Constitution, which was later superseded by the Thirteenth Amendment. The former guaranteed a right for a slaveholder to recover an escaped slave. The Act, "An Act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," created the legal mechanism by which that could be accomplished.
Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 41 U.S. 539 (1842), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court held that the federal Fugitive Slave Act (1793) precluded a Pennsylvania state law that prohibited blacks from being taken out of the free state of Pennsylvania into slavery. The Court overturned the conviction of slavecatcher Edward Prigg as a result.
The Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States, formally the Constitution for the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America, was an agreement among all seven original states in the Confederate States of America that served as its first constitution. Its drafting by a committee of twelve appointed by the Provisional Congress began on February 5, 1861. The Provisional Constitution was formally adopted on February 8. Government under this constitution was superseded by the new Confederate States Constitution with a permanent form of government "organized on the principles of the United States" on February 22, 1862.
The fugitive slave laws were laws passed by the United States Congress in 1793 and 1850 to provide for the return of slaves who escaped from one state into another state or territory. The idea of the fugitive slave law was derived from the Fugitive Slave Clause which is in the United States Constitution. It was thought that forcing states to deliver escaped slaves to slave owners violated states' rights due to state sovereignty and was believed that seizing state property should not be left up to the states. The Fugitive Slave Clause states that escaped slaves "shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due", which abridged state rights because retrieving slaves was a form of retrieving private property. The Compromise of 1850 entailed a series of laws that allowed slavery in the new territories and forced officials in Free States to give a hearing to slaveholders without a jury.
The Constitution of the State of Mississippi, also known as the Mississippi Constitution, is the governing document for the U.S. state of Mississippi. It describes and enumerates the structures and functions of the Mississippian state government and lists the rights and privileges that are held by the state's residents and citizens. It was adopted on November 1, 1890.
The House Divided Speech was an address given by Abraham Lincoln, later President of the United States, on June 16, 1858, at what was then the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, after he had accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination as that state's US senator. The speech became the launching point for his unsuccessful campaign for the seat, held by Stephen A. Douglas; the campaign would climax with the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.
Federalist Paper No. 54 is an essay by James Madison, the fifty-fourth of The Federalist Papers. It was published on February 12, 1788 under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all The Federalist papers were published. This paper discusses the way in which the seats in the United States House of Representatives are apportioned among the states. It is titled "The Apportionment of Members Among the States". The essay was erroneously attributed to John Jay in Alexander Hamilton's enumeration of the authors of the various Federalist Papers.
The Confiscation Act of 1862, or Second Confiscation Act, was a law passed by the United States Congress during the American Civil War. Section 13 of the act formed the legal basis for President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
The State of Alabama was central to the Civil War, with the secession convention at Montgomery, birthplace of the Confederacy, inviting other states to form a Southern Republic, during January–March 1861, and develop constitutions to legally run their own affairs. The 1861 Alabama Constitution granted citizenship to current U.S. residents, but prohibited import duties (tariffs) on foreign goods, limited a standing military, and as a final issue, opposed emancipation by any nation, but urged protection of African slaves, with trial by jury, and reserved the power to regulate or prohibit the African slave trade. The secession convention invited all slaveholding states to secede, but only 7 Cotton States of the Lower South formed the Confederacy with Alabama, while the majority of slave states were in the Union and voted to make U.S. slavery permanent by passing the Corwin Amendment, signed by President Buchanan and backed by President Lincoln on March 4, 1861.
The Fugitive Slave Clause of the United States Constitution, also known as either the Slave Clause or the Fugitives From Labor Clause, is Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, which requires a "person held to service or labor" who flees to another state to be returned to the owner in the state from which that person escaped. The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery except as a punishment for criminal acts, made the clause mostly irrelevant.
The Confederate States presidential election of November 6, 1861 was the only presidential election held under the Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis, who had been elected president and Alexander H. Stephens, who had been elected vice president, under the Provisional Constitution, were elected to six-year terms as the Confederate States' first permanent president and vice president.
We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the negro quarrel. Now, is there any man who wished to reproduce that strife among ourselves? And yet does not he, who wished the slave trade left for the action of Congress, see that he proposed to open a Pandora's box among us and to cause our political arena again to resound with this discussion. Had we left the question unsettled, we should, in my opinion, have sown broadcast the seeds of discord and death in our Constitution. I congratulate the country that the strife has been put to rest forever, and that American slavery is to stand before the world as it is, and on its own merits. We have now placed our domestic institution, and secured its rights unmistakably, in the Constitution. We have sought by no euphony to hide its name. We have called our negroes 'slaves', and we have recognized and protected them as persons and our rights to them as property.