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Confederate States Constitution

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The Confederate States Constitution

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was the supreme law of the Confederate States of America, as adopted on March 11, 1861 and in effect through the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Confederacy also operated under a Provisional Constitution from February 8, 1861 to March 11, 1861.

In most cases, the document is a word-for-word duplicate of the United States Constitution. The major differences between them was the Confederacy's greater emphasis on the rights of individual member states, and an explicit support of slavery.

Contents

Organs

The constitution outlines a three branch government, consisting of the:

Slavery

The constitution forbids the practice of importing slaves from outside the Confederacy, but explicitly states slavery as a right in the following key provision:

No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed [by Congress]

The constitution likewise says that all subsequent territories added to the Confederacy will too become slave states (unlike the United States, which previously decided on a state-by-state basis). The legal basis for slavery in the Confederacy is largely presented as an extension of property rights.

Changes from U.S. constitution

  • The President is allowed to only be elected for one six-year term, rather than an unlimited number of four-year terms (at the time) or a maximum of two four-year terms (today).
  • Several provisions in Article I which prohibited anyone of foreign birth to vote (Sec. 2, Cl. 1), extended the power of impeachment of federal officials to state legislatures in certain cases (Sec. 2, Cl. 5), granted cabinet officers opportunity to address the House of Representatives (Sec. 6), and gave the Confederate President the power of the line item veto over certain appropriations legislation (Sec. 7, Cl. 2).
  • The first twelve amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including the ten that comprised the Bill of Rights, were directly incorporated into the Confederate constitution.
  • Each clause within a section was numbered, whereas in the U.S. constitution clause numbers were only inferred.
  • In the preamble there is clear reference to "Almighty God", which is not included in the original U.S. constitution.

Signatories

The signatories of the constitution were:

  • Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.
  • South Carolina: R. Barnwell Rhett, C. G. Memminger, Wm. Porcher Miles, James Chesnut, Jr., R. W. Barnwell, William W. Boyce, Lawrence M. Keitt, T. J. Withers.
  • Georgia: Francis S. Bartow, Martin J. Crawford, Benjamin H. Hill, Thos. R. R. Cobb.
  • Florida: Jackson Morton, J. Patton Anderson, Jas. B. Owens.
  • Alabama: Richard W. Walker, Robt. H. Smith, Colin J. McRae, William P. Chilton, Stephen F. Hale, David P. Lewis, Tho. Fearn, Jno. Gill Shorter, J. L. M. Curry.
  • Mississippi: Alex. M. Clayton, James T. Harrison, William S. Barry, W. S. Wilson, Walker Brooke, W. P. Harris, J. A. P. Campbell.
  • Louisiana: Alex. de Clouet, C. M. Conrad, Duncan F. Kenner, Henry Marshall.
  • Texas: John Hemphill, Thomas N. Waul, John H. Reagan, Williamson S. Oldham, Louis T. Wigfall, John Gregg, William Beck Ochiltree.
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