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President of the Confederate States

From Academic Kids

The President of the Confederate States was the Head of State of the short-lived republic of the Confederate States of America which seceded from the United States.

The only man to hold the office was Jefferson Davis. He was President from February 18, 1861 to May 10, 1865.

Office

According to the Confederate States Constitution, the President's office was almost entirely the same as that of the President of the United States.

The President was to be:

  • chosen by an electoral college from each state in the Confederacy. Each state had as many electors as they had members in Congress (senators + represenatives).
  • elected jointly with a Vice Presidential running mate (but the President and VP could not be citizens of the same state)
  • either a born citizen of the Confederacy or a born citizen of the US born prior to December 20, 1860 and resident in the Confederacy for over 14 years.
  • at least 35 years old

Powers

The President of the Confederacy held most of the same powers as the US President. Though he could not directly propose legislation, he was given the power to nominate members of the Supreme Court, ambassadors, cabinet members, and other executive officals to be approved by the Senate.

He was also Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Army and held veto power over legislation.

The President could be impeached by Congress for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Differences

There were a few key differences between the proposed Confederate President and the United States one:

  • Unlike the United States, which allowed for indefinite re-election (until 1951) of both the President and Vice President after a four-year term, the Confederacy limited both offices to only one, six-year term. After the war, this innovation gained considerable popularity in the re-constituted Union, most notably being endorsed by Rutherford B. Hayes in his inaugural address.
  • The Confederacy did not indicate who succeeds to the office of President following the removal or death of both the President and Vice President. The constitution states that Congress will appoint an officer to act as President in such cases. In the United States, the Presidency is passed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives then a long list of other offices.
  • One unique power granted to the Confederate president was the ability to subject a bill to a line item veto, a power held by some state governors.
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