The Confederate States Of America

The Confederate

States Of America

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 onJune 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

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,