Confederate States Of America Essay Research Paper

Confederate States Of America Essay, Research Paper Confederate States of America, the name adopted by the federation of 11 slave holding Southern states of the United States that seceded from the Union and were

Confederate States Of America Essay, Research Paper

Confederate States of America, the name adopted by the federation of 11 slave

holding Southern states of the United States that seceded from the Union and were

arrayed against the national government during the American Civil War.

Immediately after confirmation of the election of Abraham Lincoln as president,

the legislature of South Carolina convened. In a unanimous vote on December 20, 1860,

the state seceded from the Union. During the next two months ordinances of secession

were adopted by the states of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and

Texas. President James Buchanan, in the last days of his administration, declared that the

federal government would not forcibly prevent the secessions. In February 1861, the

seceding states sent representatives to a convention in Montgomery, Alabama. The

convention, presided over by Howell Cobb of Georgia, adopted a provisional constitution

and chose Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as provisional president and Alexander

Hamilton Stephens of Georgia as provisional vice president. The convention, on March

11, 1861, unanimously ratified a permanent constitution. The constitution, which closely

resembled the federal Constitution, prohibited the African slave trade but allowed

interstate commerce in slaves.

Jefferson Davis (1808-89), first and only president of the Confederate States of

America (1861-65). Davis was born on June 3, 1808, in Christian (now Todd) County,

Kentucky, and educated at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky, and at the U.S.

Military Academy. After his graduation in 1828, he saw frontier service until ill health

forced his resignation from the army in 1835. He was a planter in Mississippi from 1835

to 1845, when he was elected to the U.S. Congress. In 1846 he resigned his seat in order

to serve in the Mexican War and fought at Monterrey and Buena Vista, where he was

wounded. He was U.S. senator from Mississippi from 1847 to 1851, secretary of war in

the cabinet of President Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857, and again U.S. senator from

1857 to 1861. As a senator he often stated his support of slavery and of states’ rights, and

as a cabinet member he influenced Pierce to sign the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which

favored the South and increased the bitterness of the struggle over slavery. In his second

term as senator he became the acknowledged spokesman for the Southern point of view.

He opposed the idea of secession from the Union, however, as a means of maintaining

the principles of the South. Even after the first steps toward secession had been taken, he

tried to keep the Southern states in the Union, although not at the expense of their

principles. When the state of Mississippi seceded, he withdrew from the Senate.

On February 18, 1861, the provisional Congress of the Confederate States

made him provisional president. He was elected to the office by popular vote the same

year for a 6-year term and was inaugurated in Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the

Confederacy, on February 22, 1862. Davis failed to raise sufficient money to fight the

American Civil War and could not obtain recognition and help for the Confederacy from

foreign governments. He was in constant conflict with extreme exponents of the doctrine

of states’ rights, and his attempts to have high military officers appointed by the president

were opposed by the governors of the states. The judges of state courts constantly

interfered in military matters through judicial decisions. Davis was nevertheless

responsible for the raising of the formidable Confederate armies, the notable appointment

of General Robert E. Lee as commander of the Army of Virginia, and the encouragement

of industrial enterprise throughout the South. His zeal, energy, and faith in the cause of

the South were a source of much of the tenacity with which the Confederacy fought the

Civil War. Even in 1865 Davis still hoped the South would be able to achieve its

independence, but at last he realized defeat was imminent and fled from Richmond. On

May 10, 1865, federal troops captured him at Irwinville, Georgia. From 1865 to 1867 he

was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. Davis was indicted for treason in 1866 but

the next year was released on a bond of $100,000 signed by the American newspaper

publisher Horace Greeley and other influential Northerners. In 1868 the federal

government dropped the case against him. From 1870 to 1878 he engaged in a number of

unsuccessful business enterprises; and from 1878 until his death in New Orleans, on

December 6, 1889, he lived near Biloxi, Mississippi. His grave is in Richmond, Virginia.

He wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881).

Soon after his inauguration as provisional president on February 18, 1861, Davis

appointed his first cabinet; each of the six members represented a different state. The

first task of the administration was to prepare for the impending conflict. Between

December 30, 1860, and February 18, 1861, the Confederates had seized 11 federal forts

and arsenals from South Carolina to Texas and harassed Fort Sumter in Charleston, South

Carolina. Lincoln, in his inaugural address on March 4, 1861, rejected the right of

secession but attempted to conciliate the South. Negotiations for the relief of Fort Sumter

failed, and on April 12 the bombardment of the fort began. Three days later Lincoln

announced that an insurrection had occurred, and he called for volunteers.

The number of states in the Confederacy was increased to 11 by the secession of

Virginia in April and of Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina in May. The provisional Confederate Congress, which had met for four sessions between February 4,

1861 and February 17, 1862, was replaced by a permanent legislature on February 18,

1862. The Confederate capital was moved on May 24, 1861 from Montgomery to

Richmond, Virginia. At the first general elections held under the permanent constitution

on November 6, 1861, Davis was elected president and Stephens vice president. In

February 1862, Davis was inaugurated president for a term of 6 years. The last years of

his service were marked by the conflict between the civil and military forces and gave

rise to the assertion that the government of the Confederacy had become a military

dictatorship. The tendency toward dictatorship was increased by the custom of holding

secret sessions of the Congress, by the practice of cabinet officers exercising their rights

to sit in Congress, and by the gradual lowering of the political morale and independence

of Congress. This condition was further complicated by personal controversies among

officials. The first permanent Congress held four sessions; the second Congress, two sessions, with the final adjournment of the body taking place on March 18, 1865.Although the political organization of the Confederacy was almost identical with

that of the Union, the outbreak of the war served to accentuate the marked difference

between the two sections. The population of the Confederacy at the start of the war was

nearly 9 million including more than 3.8 million slaves. The population of the territory

loyal to the Union was about 22 million, including about 500,000 slaves. The value of

the improved lands of the seceding states was estimated at less than $2 billion; the value

of those in the Union states was nearly $5 billion. The South had 150 textile factories,

with a product valued at $8 million; the North had 900 such factories, with a product

valued at $115 million. In the South 2000 persons were employed in the manufacture of

clothing; in the North 100,000 were so engaged. During 1860 the imports of the South

were valued at $331 million; those of the North at $331 million. It was thus obvious that

the South was dependent on Europe and on the North for material goods. The lack of

resources forced the Confederacy to levy war taxes and borrow heavily on future cotton

crops. An inflationary period in 1863 and later government actions almost destroyed the

Confederate credit.

In addition the South was hampered by the lack of powder mills and of suitable

iron works; only one plant, the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, was equipped to turn

out large field guns. The railroad system was inadequately developed and equipped, and although the South made desperate attempts to maintain itself in a battle against

overwhelming odds, the struggles left it financially and industrially ruined at the close of

the Civil War. The process of restoring the Confederacy to the Union was called

Reconstruction . The U.S. Supreme Court, in 1869, in the case of Texas v. White,

declared secession unconstitutional.

1. Compton?s Online Encyclopedia

2. America Is, Merrill Publishing Company and Bell and Howell Company, 1987, Columbus, Ohio

3. The American Nation, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1994