Tuesday, February 08, 2011

February 8, 1861: The Confederate Constitution

On the night of Friday, February 8, 1861, the convention of seceded states meeting at Montgomery, Alabama, adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America.

The constitution was copied almost verbatim from the U.S. Constitution with a few significant changes:
  • The preamble omitted the general welfare clause and the phrase "a more perfect Union" and added a clause after "We the People" to make it clear that "the People" were acting through sovereign and independent states.

  • The Confederate Constitution did away with the old cumbersome language of the U.S. Constitution -- "persons held to service or labor" -- and called a slave a slave.

  • The importation of slaves from abroad was prohibited, but slavery would be protected in any new territory the Confederacy might acquire.

  • Protective tariffs were forbidden, as were appropriations for internal improvements.

  • The president would be limited to one six-year term, but was given a line item veto on appropriations bills.
The provisional constitution would be submitted to the states for ratification.  A permanent constitution would be adopted on March 11.

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