Confederate States of
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The Confederate States of America, also
referred to as the Confederacy and the CSA, was an unrecognized power
established in early 1861 by eleven southern slave states that seceded
from the United States of America.
Torn apart primarily by the issue of
slavery, these states also had issues with the Federal Government that
included states' rights, policies favoring Northern over Southern economic interests,
expansionism, modernization, and taxes.
Though many of the disagreements between
the North and South had been brewing since the
ended in 1782, the crisis began to come to a head in the 1850’s as the
nation was growing westward.
As new territories such as
added, the Southern factions felt that slavery should be allowed in
these new territories, while the "Free Soilers” were set against it.
This led to open warfare between
Missouri, generally referred to in history as "Bleeding
Kansas.” One of the many precursors to the
Civil War, these many battles pitted neighbor against neighbor.
dispute over the expansion of slavery into new territories and the
Abraham Lincoln as president on November 6, 1860 that finally led
to the secession of eleven Southern states. Though Lincoln did not propose federal laws making slavery unlawful where
it already existed, his sentiments regarding a "divided nation” were
If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.
-- Jefferson Davis
in the CSA
territories claimed by CSA without formal secession and/or control
On December 20, 1860,
South Carolina was
the first state to secede from the
Union and within two months,
Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and
Texas followed. On February 4, 1861 the Confederate States of
America were organized, and a few days later on February 9, a
provisional government was formed with
President Jefferson Davis at its helm.
After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter
on April 12, 1861, and Lincoln's subsequent call for troops on April 15, 1861, four more
states declared their secession, including
Tennessee, and North Carolina.
The border states of Kentucky and
Missouri declared neutrality
very early in the war, as their citizens were divided in their
loyalties. Kentucky gradually came to side with the north; but,
Missouri remained divided for
the duration of the Civil War.
The southern parts of modern day
also allied with the Confederacy and when the Union abandoned federal
forts and installations in Indian Territory
the South claimed this territory.
Breaking away from
Virginia during the
Civil War, Union loyalists would form a new state called West Virginia,
officially admitted to the Union in June, 1863, but, like other border
states, its population had mixed loyalties.
Organization of the Confederacy
The Confederate States of America were
organized at a congress of delegates from the seceded states of
South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana which
met at Montgomery, Alabama on February 4, 1861. A provisional
government was established within a few days and on February 9th;
Jefferson Davis was made president and Alexander H. Stephens,
vice-president. This temporary government was to continue only one
year and its constitution was, therefore, not submitted to the states
or the people of the states for ratification. But a '"permanent"
constitution was drawn during the weeks immediately following,
approved by the congress on March 11th and submitted to the
conventions of the seceded states. It was promptly adopted though it
would not to become effective until February 22, 1862.
In the meantime, the provisional government
assumed, with unanimous consent, all the common and general functions
which the states could not exercise. All the initiatory steps of the Civil
in so far as the South was concerned, were taken by this government. Texas
joined the Confederacy in March;
Virginia in April; North Carolina in May;
in June; while large portions of Kentucky and
Missouri also cast in their lots
with the South and sent delegates to the Confederate congresses. The area
thus embraced about 800,000 square miles exclusive of what was held in the
and New Mexico,
and the population of these states and parts of states was about
10,000.000, of which fully 4,000,000 were African-Americans.
With this organization accomplished, the
Confederate authorities then appointed commissioners to Europe and to the
Federal Government to ask for recognition as an independent power. The
commissioners appeared in Washington D.C. and demanded jurisdiction over
the forts and other property of the older government within the bounds of
the seceded states.
Meanwhile, the Confederate Government assumed
the jurisdiction in question, hastened the organization of an army and a
navy and made appropriations and loans for these and other purposes, all
in the most orderly manner and without any opposition on the part of the
people of the southern states, though there was grave dissatisfaction in
the mountain districts where slavery and its influence had not penetrated.
The Federal authorities refused to recognize the Confederate agents or to
concede any rights whatever concerning the forts or other property. But,
the European powers acknowledged the existence of the new nation by
granting it the standing of a belligerent in international law, an
important concession especially in commercial matters and in the
application of the rules of war. It was generally expected that formal
diplomatic recognition would soon follow; and in the North there was a
strong party, supported by the great financial interests of New York,
which advised that the southern states be allowed to "depart in peace."
Even President Abraham Lincoln thought seriously of such a solution of the
problem and William H. Seward, the Secretary of State, gave the southern
commissioners, A.B. Roman, John Forsyth and Martin Crawford, assurance
that the forts and other property of the Federal Government would be
surrendered without a struggle.
The War Begins
However, the meaning of a separation, the injury
to northern commerce and manufactures as well as the probable difficulties
about boundaries and the equally probable conflicts of the future wrought
a change in sentiment, and President Abraham Lincoln, always a true interpreter of public
opinion, finally decided not to negotiate with the southern
representatives and especially, not to surrender Fort Sumter. This decision was reached between April 9th and 12th, 1861.
the same time the southern leaders began to fear a restoration of the
Union on some such basis as the proposed Crittenden Compromise; and the
Confederate Government found it necessary, in order to hold its own ardent
supporters together, to hasten a decision. The firing upon Fort Sumter
on the night of April 12, 1861, aroused the latent military spirit of both
the people of the North and South and war soon followed.
The immediate outcome of President Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers on April 15th was the
official loss to the Federal Government of the Border States. The
accession of so much territory north of the lower southern states added
greatly to the enthusiasm of the South and caused the removal of the
Confederate capitol from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond,
Virginia and in
the early summer, the armies of the two sections of the United States
prepared for actual conflict on the soil of northern Virginia.
Bombarding Fort Sumter, South Carolina, April, 1861, by Courier & Ives.
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
Troubles in the Government
In the meantime, the new
Confederate Government was showing early troubles as the first Cabinet was composed of
men who had either opposed the secession movement or who had been rivals
Jefferson Davis for years. Vice-President Alexander Stephens had never
been on friendly terms with Davis and he had been the most powerful
opponent of secession in the South as late as January, 1861. The first
Secretary of State, Robert Toombs was hostile to Davis, and within months
of his appointment, stepped down to join the Confederate States Army as a
brigadier general in July, 1861. Christopher Memminger,
the first Secretary of the Treasury, had consistently fought the
separatist movement since 1832; L. Pope Walker, the first Secretary of
War, had been a leader of the unionist forces of North Alabama and even
Davis himself had advised South Carolina not to secede as late as November
Of the great generals whom the president of
the Confederacy called to the leadership of the armies, only Albert Sidney
Johnston really believed in the propriety and necessity of the movement.
Lee had never been a state rights man and late in April, 1861, he
lamented the "revolution" which the lower South had precipitated. Joseph
E. Johnston was of the same opinion, though his political antecedents were
less strongly national than those of Lee. In the senate and house a large
minority -- sometimes a majority --of the leaders was made up of men who
had never believed in the wisdom of secession, though most of them
acknowledged the right of a state to withdraw from the Union.
Recognition of the Confederate States
Despite persistent efforts of Confederate
agents from 1861 to 1865 to secure recognition, it failed. The U.S.
Federal Government refused al to hold any official communication that
could be interpreted as recognition of the existence of the Confederacy as
a separate power. In addition, the U.S. Federal Courts held that the
Confederate States were "an unlawful assemblage without corporate power."
In the meantime, the Confederacy pinned its
hopes for survival on military intervention from Europe. The South based
their expectations on the fact that Europe, especially England, could not
endure the lack of cotton. These expectations would prove mistaken. When
the U.S. Federal Government made it clear that any diplomatic recognition
of the Confederacy meant war with the United States, no nation was willing
to go to war and would not assist or recognize the Confederacy.
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