Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Confederate Constitution

The delegates to the convention in Montgomery, Alabama decided to base the Constitution for the new Confederacy off of the United States Constitution. While they had decided to leave the United States, they still thought that that form of government would be the best with a few minor adjustments. Therefore the new Constitution was word-for-word the same in most sections. We will go over the more important changes and see whether they were good improvements.


We, the people of the Confederate States, each state acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity—invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God—do ordain and establish this constitution for the Confederate States of America.
They made several important changes to the preamble, which stated the general purpose of the government. The new government would be more limited and the state would be given more power, even though the changes they made were small. They stated more clearly that the states were establishing the new Union as sovereign and independent. They also removed the broad statement "to promote the general welfare," which they thought should be left to the states.

They also invoked the favor of God. God was referenced in the Declaration of Independence, but not in the U.S. Constitution even though almost all of the founders, including those who would not be considered Christians such as Benjamin Franklin, recognized the necessity of the blessing and providence of God. The Southerners wanted to add this idea specifically to the new Constitution.

President’s Term

They changed the term of the President from four-years to six, and he was not allowed to be re-elected. The limit in the number of terms would prevent people from choosing one “tyrant” over and over, but it would also stop a good man from continuing to serve his country. The six years would mean that if a bad choice was made, they were stuck with it for six years. Since the president was not able to be reelected, he would not change his policies as his term came to a close to please the people. This could have good and bad implications. The issue of the president's term was very complicated and the founders spent much time thinking about which was better. Both solutions have their benefits and problems.

State’s Rights

In Article 1 Section 2 they said that the state legislatures could impeach any federal officer or judge who worked solely in that state. This would increase the powers of the states to resist federal encroachments because they had the power to remove government officials that were doing things which they disagreed with.


They attempted to add provisions to restrain the Congress from favoring some industries over others with tariffs. This was one of the reasons they left the Union.. However, by their nature tariffs favor some industries. The real solution was for the congressmen to be very careful about what tariffs they voted for and whether they would unfairly favor an industry.


They specifically banned the slave trade in the new Constitution, which we already discussed in a previous post: . http://civilwar150th.blogspot.com/2010/12/slave-trade.html They also explicitly gave the right to own slaves. However, many today are surprised that their new Constitution did not focus more on this issue. But the focus of the government would not be on slavery, that was just one of the reasons that compelled them to leave the Union.


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