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CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA

elaborate character, is now extensively employed in almost all branches of the confectionery trade. For chocolate see that article, also Cocoa.


CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, the title of the independent government, formed by the seceding Southern States at the opening of the American Civil War, in the winter of 1860–1861. These States contained roughly half the population of the Northern States which remained in the Union. In proportion to their population they had played a more important part in the previous political history of the United States than was their share. The formation of the new Confederacy was in the hands of experienced statesmen, well schooled in the politics of their respective states and in the halls of the Federal Congress to undertake such a task. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was almost naturally chosen president, his rival candidates being Alexander H. Stephens, subsequently chosen to fill the vice-presidency of the Confederacy, an important exponent of states rights, and during the war a strong antagonist of President Davis’s policy, and Robert Toombs of Georgia, a strong secessionist. The latter became a prominent member of the Confederate Congress, and, like Stephens, opposed the despotic powers of the Richmond government. President Davis had been trained in the Federal army, as well as in the Congress and in the National administration. His administration of the Confederate presidency cannot be called brilliant. The difficulties he contended with, however, were insurmountable; but his official acts were always the result of an unselfish desire to do what seemed best for the cause he espoused. The president’s cabinet contained, among others, Judah P. Benjamin, secretary of state; C. G. Memminger (1803–1888), and later George A. Trenholm (1806–1876), secretaries of the treasury; G. W. Randolph (1818–1878) and James A. Seddon (1815–1880), secretaries of war; S. R. Mallory (1813–1873), secretary of the navy, and John H. Reagan, postmaster-general. Of these Benjamin was distinctly the most powerful intellectually. Memminger, with little training or aptitude for his difficult position, did not distinguish himself as a financier, and was succeeded in the summer of 1864 by Trenholm, a Charleston banker, of high intelligence and good training, who, however, found it impossible to save the Confederacy from financial ruin. Of other Confederates prominent in official positions the following may be mentioned: Howell Cobb, a former member of the Federal Congress and of President Buchanan’s cabinet, serving as speaker of the provisional Confederate congress and later in the field; Robert W. Barnwell (1801–1882) and William L. Yancey; Benjamin H. Hill (1823–1882) and A. H. Keenan of Georgia; John A. Campbell (1811–1889), before the war a judge of the U.S. Supreme Court; Judge A. G. Magrath (1813–1893), a prominent judge of the Confederate court in South Carolina; Governors Z. B. Vance of North Carolina, and J. E. Brown of Georgia (1821–1894).

In framing their provisional and permanent constitutions in 1861 the Confederate statesmen emphasized the points of view which had characterized them in the great constitutional discussions of the previous half-century. They also aimed to correct certain defects in the United States Constitution by amending that document in various directions. The Southern “State’s Rights” view of the sovereign and independent position of the individual states was emphasized in the Confederate constitutions, which even went so far as to allow a state legislature to impeach a Confederate official acting within that state. Moreover, in the provisional Confederate constitution state officials were not bound by oath to support the central government. The powers of the executive were increased as against the prerogatives of the congress. The president was allowed to veto particular appropriations and approve others in the same bill. His term of office was lengthened to seven years, and he was declared ineligible for a second term of office. The cabinet officers were allowed seats in either house of congress, in imitation of the practice in Great Britain, which Alexander H. Stephens especially was anxious to transplant to the American continent. The congress could appropriate money for particular purposes only by a two-thirds majority, unless the appropriation were asked for by the head of that department. Every bill was to refer to one subject, and that subject was to be expressed in the title, a provision aimed at preventing “omnibus” and confused legislation, in which it signally failed.

The Southern attitude toward a protective tariff was emphasized by the constitutional provision that no bounty should be paid and no taxes levied for the benefit of any branches of industry. Similarly the central government could not authorize internal improvements except for aids to navigation. Also the expenses of the post office were not allowed to exceed its receipts. The old Constitution had carefully avoided the use of the word “slave,” but the Confederate constitutions had no such scruples, and, moreover, recognized the legitimate existence of slavery, and forbade all legislation which might impair the right of property in negro slaves.

These changes all had reference to times of peace. The war powers of the government were left unchanged from those provided for by the Federal Constitution. Provisions of that document as to suspending the writ of habeas corpus and the provisions regarding conscription were left equally vague in the new Confederate Constitution. These led to acrimonious discussion and much bitter feeling against the centralized war powers of the government at Richmond. As the war progressed, the Richmond authorities became necessarily more and more oppressive and aroused the “States’ Rights” feeling prevalent in the South. It became evident that a confederated form of government, such as was planned by the Southerners, was unsuited to the stringent requirements of war times and contributed doubtless somewhat to the final cataclysm.

The provisions of the new constitution regarding the issue of legal tender paper money remained the same as of old. In the North such legal tender paper began to be issued in the spring of 1862, and later opened the question of the constitutionality of such a practice. No Confederate legal tender act was ever passed, though the agitation in that direction was often strong. The objections which prevented the passage of such an act were the same as those offered by the minority in later years against the constitutionality of the Federal legal tender act. The Southerners were too true to their strict constructionist views of the constitution to admit the constitutionality of a legal tender act.

The personnel of the Confederate congress and administration was materially weakened by the military field’s drawing off the most brilliant Southern leaders. It was largely owing to the strategical skill of these generals that the Southern armies, smaller and more poorly equipped than their opponents, maintained the unequal contest for four years. In the naval operations the North had an overwhelming advantage, which was promptly and effectively used. The blockade of the Southern ports, beginning in the spring of 1861, was much less spectacular than the operations of the army, but was quite as effective in breaking down the Confederacy. It cut off the South from obtaining foreign war supplies, and reduced it to dependence upon its own products, which were almost exclusively agricultural. Manufacturing industries hardly existed in the South. A few iron works attempted with little success to meet the demand for ordnance. This and small-arms were obtained from the Federal arsenals in 1861, by capture and to some extent by eluding the blockade. Powder factories were established and vigorously operated. The scarcity and high price of clothing put a large premium on the establishment of textile factories, but their product was far below the demand.

The South was unfortunate in having a poorly developed railway system. As compared with those of the North, its railways were inadequately equipped and did not form connected systems. During the war, the inroads of the Federal troops, and the natural deterioration of the lines and their rolling stock, greatly reduced the value of the railroads as a military factor. They continued to be active in distributing the relatively small amount of imports through the blockaded ports of Charleston, Savannah and Wilmington. Their usefulness to the army and