President of the Confederate States of America

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President of the
Confederate States of America
Seal of the Confederate States of America.svg
Style His Excellency
Residence
Seat
Appointer
Term length
  • One year
    (provisional)
  • Six years
    (permanent)
Formation
  • February 18, 1861
    (provisional)
  • February 22, 1862
    (permanent)
First holder Jefferson Davis
Final holderJefferson Davis
AbolishedMay 10, 1865
Deputy Vice-President of the
Confederate States
Salary CS$25,000 per annum

The President of the Confederate States of America was the elected head of state and government of the Confederate States. The president also headed the executive branch of government and was commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, and of the militia of the several states when called into Confederate service. [1]

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. "Head of government" is often differentiated from "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.

Confederate States of America (de facto) federal republic in North America from 1861 to 1865

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.

Contents

Article II of the Confederate States Constitution vested the executive power of the Confederacy in the president. The power included the execution of law, alongside the responsibility of appointing executive, diplomatic, regulatory and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers with the advice and consent of the senate. He was further empowered to grant reprieves and pardons, and convene and adjourn either or both houses of Congress under extraordinary circumstances. [1]

Confederate States Constitution Supreme statute of the Confederate States of America

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.

Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts. It describes either of two situations: where a weak executive branch of a government enacts something previously approved of by the legislative branch or where the legislative branch concurs and approves something previously enacted by a strong executive branch.

A pardon is a government decision to allow a person to be absolved of guilt for an alleged crime or other legal offense, as if the act never occurred. The pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the crime, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.

The president was indirectly elected by the people through the Electoral College to a six-year term, and was one of only two nationally elected Confederate officers, the other being the Vice President. On February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis became president of the provisional government. On February 22, 1862, he became president of the permanent government and served in that capacity until being captured by elements of the United States Cavalry in 1865. [2]

An indirect election is an election in which voters do not choose between candidates for an office, but elect people who then choose. It is one of the oldest forms of elections, and is still used today for many presidents, cabinets, upper houses, and supranational legislatures. Presidents and prime ministers can be indirectly elected by parliaments or by a special body convened solely for that purpose. The election of the executive government in most parliamentary systems is indirect: elect the parliamentarians, who then elect the government including most prominently the prime minister from among themselves. Upper houses, especially of federal republics, can be indirectly elected by state legislatures or state governments. Similarly, supranational legislatures can be indirectly elected by constituent countries' legislatures or executive governments.

Vice President of the Confederate States of America vice-head of state for the Confederate States of America

The Vice President of the Confederate States of America was the office held by Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, who served under President Jefferson Davis of Mississippi from February 18, 1861, until the dissolution of the Confederacy on May 5, 1865. Having first been elected by the Provisional Confederate States Congress, both were considered provisional office-holders until they won the presidential election of November 6, 1861 without opposition and inaugurated on February 22, 1862.

Jefferson Davis President of the Confederate States of America

Jefferson Finis Davis was an American politician who served as the only President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. As a member of the Democratic Party, he represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives prior to switching allegiance to the Confederacy. He was appointed as the United States Secretary of War, serving from 1853 to 1857, under President Franklin Pierce.

Powers and duties

The constitutional powers of the President of the Confederate States were similar to those of the President of the United States. The permanent Confederate States Constitution made him commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, and of the militia of the confederated states when called into service of the Confederate States. He was also empowered to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the Confederate States. He was authorized to make treaties; to nominate and appoint diplomatic representatives, judges, and other officers of the Confederate States (including the heads of the executive departments) by and with the consent of the Confederate States Senate; and to remove such representatives and officers. He could fill vacancies during a recess of the Senate, but he could not reappoint, during a recess, persons previously rejected by it. He was to supply Congress with information, recommend legislation, receive ambassadors and other public ministers, see that the federal laws were faithfully executed, and commission all officers of the military and naval forces of the Confederate States. [2]

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Militia generally refers to an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters

A militia is generally an army or some other fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a nation, or subjects of a state, who can be called upon for military service during a time of need, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of a warrior nobility class. Generally unable to hold ground against regular forces, it is common for militias to be used for aiding regular troops by skirmishing, holding fortifications, or irregular warfare, instead of being used in offensive campaigns by themselves. Militia are often limited by local civilian laws to serve only in their home region, and to serve only for a limited time; this further reduces their use in long military campaigns.

Election and oath

Confederate election ballot, Virginia, November 6, 1861 ConfederateElectoralBallotVirginiaNov6186.jpg
Confederate election ballot, Virginia, November 6, 1861
1861 Inauguration of Jefferson Davis at the Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama 1861 Davis Inaugural.jpg
1861 Inauguration of Jefferson Davis at the Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama

On February 9, 1861, the provisional congress at Montgomery unanimously elected Jefferson Davis president and Alexander H. Stephens vice president. Stephens, who was a delegate to Congress from Georgia, was inaugurated on February 11. Davis was inaugurated on February 18 upon his arrival from Mississippi, where he had gone upon his resignation from the U.S. Senate. Davis and Stephens were elected on Wednesday November 6, 1861, for six-years terms, as provided by the permanent constitution. The Capital had been moved in June 1861, to Richmond, and the inauguration took place at the statue of Washington, on the capitol square, on February 22, 1862. [2]

Alexander H. Stephens 19th-century American politician and Vice-President of the Confederate States of America

Alexander Hamilton Stephens was an American politician who served as the only Vice President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, and later as the 50th Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883. A member of the Democratic Party, Stephens represented the state of Georgia in the United States House of Representatives prior to becoming Governor.

Georgia (U.S. state) State of the United States of America

Georgia is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Georgia is the 24th largest and 8th-most populous of the 50 United States. Georgia is bordered to the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, to the northeast by South Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by Florida, and to the west by Alabama. The state's nicknames include the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, a "beta(+)" global city, is both the state's capital and largest city. The Atlanta metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 5,949,951 in 2018, is the 9th-most populous metropolitan area in the United States and contains about 60% of the entire state population.

Mississippi State of the United States of America

Mississippi is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd largest and 34th-most populous of the 50 United States. Mississippi is bordered to north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson is both the state's capital and largest city. Greater Jackson, with an estimated population of 580,166 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in Mississippi and the 95th-most populous in the United States.

Before Davis entered on the execution of his office as President of the Confederate States, he was constitutionally required to take the following oath or affirmation:

In law, an affirmation is a solemn declaration allowed to those who conscientiously object to taking an oath. An affirmation has exactly the same legal effect as an oath but is usually taken to avoid the religious implications of an oath; it is thus legally binding but not considered a religious oath. Some religious minorities hold beliefs that allow them to make legally binding promises but forbid them to swear an oath before a deity. Additionally, many decline to make a religious oath because they feel that to do so would be valueless or inappropriate, especially in secular courts. In some jurisdictions, an affirmation may be given only if such a reason is provided.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the Confederate States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution thereof. [1]

Compensation

In 1861, the President of the Confederate States earned a CS$25,000 annual salary, along with an expense account, and a nontaxable travel account. [3] The President's Office was located on the second floor of the Custom House on Main Street, a structure which also housed the Cabinet Room and the State and Treasury Department. The City of Richmond purchased the Brockenbrough house for presentation to the Confederate government for use as an executive mansion. Davis declined to accept the gift, but the mansion was leased for his use. Referred to as the "White House of the Confederacy" or the "Grey House," the mansion was used by President Davis throughout the existence of his presidency. Later it became a repository for documents, relics, and pictures, and in 1896 it was redesignated the Confederate Museum. [2]

Post-presidency

Late on the evening of April 2, 1865, President Davis, his aides, and members of the Presidential Cabinet, except C.S. Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, departed from the burning capital city of Richmond going southwest on the Richmond and Danville Railroad shortly before Union troops occupied it. The Confederate President Davis and his Cabinet stayed at Danville, 140 miles (225 km) southwest of Richmond, until April 10, when, hearing of General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House further northeast, it continued its flight farther south.

At Greensboro, North Carolina, on April 12 the Cabinet met with Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Pierre G. T. Beauregard and discussed surrender of Johnston's Army of Tennessee to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman then in nearby North Carolina moving north from Savannah through the Carolinas destroying, pillaging and burning everything in its path including Columbia the South Carolina state capital city.

As the railroad leading south out of Greensboro had already been destroyed, the flight from that location was changed to on horseback and in a train of additional wagons, ambulances, and carriages, also carrying some Confederate archives papers and the C.S.A. Treasury banknotes and remnants of gold/silver bullion. The last official Cabinet meetings of the Presidential Cabinet of the Confederate States took place at Charlotte, on April 24, and 26, then later on May 4; when President Davis left Washington, Georgia, the party consisted only of his aides and Postmaster General Reagan. Elements of the United States Cavalry / Union Army captured Davis and his companions at an encampment near Irwinville, Georgia on May 10, 1865. [2]

Jefferson Davis was imprisoned at Fort Monroe, by the Hampton Roads harbor of tidewater Virginia, until his release on bail on May 13, 1867. During his confinement, the United States federal government prepared to bring him to trial for treason and for complicity in the assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln. He could not be tried in the Commonwealth of Virginia until the Federal court was reestablished there, but by the time the U.S. Circuit Court judges were prepared in May 1867, the U.S. Federal government decided the outcome of a trial before a local jury of citizens was far too uncertain and dropped the prosecution proceedings. In November 1868, Davis was brought to trial under a new indictment, but the Federal lower court judges disagreed and the case was referred up to the Supreme Court. 17th President Andrew Johnson issued a general amnesty in December 1868 and the Supreme Court entered a nolle prosequi, thus freeing Davis. [2]

List of presidents

PortraitPresidentStateTerm of officePartyTermPrevious office Vice President
1 President-Jefferson-Davis.jpg    Jefferson Davis
June 3, 1808December 6, 1889
(Aged 81)
Mississippi February 18, 1861
[n 1]

May 10, 1865
Non-partisan1
(1861)
U.S. Senator from Mississippi
(1857–1861)
Alexander H. Stephens

Notes

  1. Jefferson Davis initially took an oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America on February 18, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama, under conditions set forth in the Constitution of the Provisional Government. After being elected to the presidency, he took another oath of office (this time for a six-year term) on February 22, 1862, in Richmond, Virginia, as prescribed in the "permanent" Constitution of the Confederate States.

Fictional Presidents of the Confederate States of America

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 C.S. Congress (provisional) (May 1861) [1st pub. March 1861]. "Article II". C.S. Constitution. Constitutional Convention. Syme & Hall, Printers to the Convention.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Beers, Henry Putney (2004) [1st pub. United States Government Publishing Office:1968]. "Chapter IV: The Presidency". The Confederacy: A Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. pp. 62–71. ISBN   0-911333-18-5 via National Archives Trust Fund Board.
  3. Vanfelson, C. A. (1861). The Little Red Book or Department Directory: For the Use of the Public in the Confederate States of America. Richmond: Tyler, Wise and Allegre, Printers. p. 4. OCLC   52558640 via Enquirer Job Office.

Further reading