Confederate States of America

This article is about the historical state. For the 2004 mockumentary, see C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America.
Confederate States of America
Unrecognized state [1]
1861–1865
Flag (1861–63) Great Seal (1863–65)
Motto
Deo vindice ( Latin)
"Under God, our Vindicator"
Anthem
The Confederate States in 1862. Light green denotes claims made by the Confederacy. Medium green denotes western counties of Virginia that separated from that State and were admitted to the Union as West Virginia. Teal denotes the still contested Indian Territory.
Capital
Languages English ( de facto)
Government Federal/ Confederal presidential non-partisan republic
President
 •  1861–65 Jefferson Davis
Vice President
 •  1861–65 Alexander Stephens
Legislature Congress
 •  Upper house Senate
 •  Lower house House of Representatives
Historical era
 •  Provisional constitution February 8, 1861
 •  Permanent constitution February 22, 1862
 •  Battle of Fort Sumter April 12, 1861
 •  Siege of Vicksburg May 18, 1863
 •  Military collapse April 9, 1865
 •  Dissolution May 5, 1865
Area
 •  18601 1,995,392 km² (770,425 sq mi)
Population
 •  18601 est. 9,103,332 
     Density 4.6 /km²  (11.8 /sq mi)
 •  Slaves2 est. 3,521,110 
Currency
Preceded by
Succeeded by
South Carolina
Mississippi
Florida
Alabama
Georgia
Louisiana
Texas
Virginia
Arkansas
Tennessee
North Carolina
United States
Today part of   United States

The Confederate States, officially the Confederate States of America (CSA or C.S.), commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was a confederation of secessionist American states existing from 1861 to 1865. It was originally formed by seven slave statesSouth Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas – in the Lower South region of the United States whose regional economy was mostly dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of African-American slaves. [2]

Each state declared its secession from the United States following the November 1860 election of Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. presidency on a platform which opposed the expansion of slavery. A new Confederate government was proclaimed in February 1861 before Lincoln took office in March, but was considered illegal by the government of the United States. After the Civil War began in April, four slave states of the Upper SouthVirginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina – also declared their secession and joined the Confederacy. The Confederacy later accepted Missouri and Kentucky as members, although neither officially declared secession nor were they ever largely controlled by Confederate forces; Confederate shadow governments attempted to control the two states but were later exiled from them.

The government of the United States ( the Union) rejected the claims of secession and considered the Confederacy illegitimate. The Civil War began with the April 12, 1861, Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter, a Union fort in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. In spring 1865, after heavy fighting which led to over half a million deaths, largely on Confederate territory, all the Confederate forces surrendered and the Confederacy dissolved. No foreign government officially recognized the Confederacy as an independent country, [1] [3] [4] although the U.K. and France granted it belligerent status. While the war lacked a formal end, nearly all Confederate forces had surrendered or disbanded by the end of 1865. Jefferson Davis later lamented that the Confederacy had "disappeared" in 1865. [5]

Span of control

On March 11, 1861, the Confederate Constitution of seven state signatories – South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas – replaced the February 7 Provisional Confederate States Constitution with one stating in its preamble a desire for a "permanent federal government". Four additional slave-holding states – Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina – declared their secession and joined the Confederacy following a call by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln for troops from each state to recapture Sumter and other seized federal properties in the South. Missouri and Kentucky were represented by partisan factions from those states, while the legitimate governments of those two states retained formal adherence to the Union. Also aligned with the Confederacy were two of the " Five Civilized Tribes" located in Indian Territory and a new, but uncontrolled, Confederate Territory of Arizona. Efforts by certain factions in Maryland to secede were halted by federal imposition of martial law, while Delaware, though of divided loyalty, did not attempt it. A Unionist government in western parts of Virginia organized the new state of West Virginia, which was admitted to the Union during the war on June 20, 1863.

Confederate control over its claimed territory and population in congressional districts steadily shrank from 73% to 34% during the course of the Civil War due to the Union's successful overland campaigns, its control of the inland waterways into the South, and its blockade of the southern coast. [6] With the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the Union made abolition of slavery a war goal (in addition to reunion). As Union forces moved southward, large numbers of plantation slaves were freed. Many joined the Union lines, enrolling in service as soldiers, teamsters and laborers. The most notable advance was Sherman's " March to the Sea" in late 1864. Much of the Confederacy's infrastructure was destroyed, including telegraphs, railroads and bridges. Plantations in the path of Sherman's forces were severely damaged. Internal movement became increasingly difficult for Southerners, weakening the economy and limiting army mobility.

These losses created an insurmountable disadvantage in men, materiel, and finance. Public support for Confederate President Jefferson Davis's administration eroded over time due to repeated military reverses, economic hardships, and allegations of autocratic government. After four years of campaigning, Richmond was captured by Union forces in April 1865. Shortly afterward, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively signalling the collapse of the Confederacy. President Davis was captured on May 10, 1865, and jailed in preparation for a treason trial that was ultimately never held. [7]

Post-war history

The U.S. government began a decade-long process known as Reconstruction which attempted to resolve the political and constitutional issues of the Civil War. The priorities were: to guarantee that Confederate nationalism and slavery were ended, to ratify and enforce the Thirteenth Amendment which outlawed slavery; the Fourteenth which guaranteed dual U.S. and state citizenship to all native-born residents, regardless of race; and the Fifteenth, which guaranteed the right of freedmen to vote.

By 1877, the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction in the former Confederate states. Federal troops were withdrawn from the South, where conservative white Southern Democrats had already regained political control of state governments, often through extreme violence and fraud to suppress black voting. Confederate veterans had been temporarily disenfranchised by Reconstruction policy. The prewar South had many rich areas; the war left the entire region economically devastated by military action, ruined infrastructure, and exhausted resources. Continuing to be dependent on an agricultural economy and resisting investment in infrastructure, the region remained dominated by the planter elite into the 20th century. After a brief period in which a Republican-Populist coalition took power in several southern states in the late 19th century, the Democratic-dominated legislatures worked to secure their control by passing new constitutions and amendments at the turn of the 20th century that disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites. This exclusion of blacks from the political system, and great weakening of the Republican Party, was generally maintained until after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Solid South of the early 20th century was built on white Democratic control of politics. The region did not achieve national levels of prosperity until long after World War II. [8]