The Confederate States of America (1861 – 1865)

When Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, he probably never thought he would have a civil war on his hands less than a year later. But that is exactly what happened when the southern states of America banded together and founded The Confederate States of America, or The Confederacy as it’s better known.

The Confederacy was made up of 11 Southern States. Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. There was no official National Anthem for the country, but “Dixie” was the most common, with “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and “God Save the South” being other popular ones.

It had two capital cities, Montgomery was the capital city from 1861 – 1865 with Richmond taking over as its capital city until The Confederacy downfall in 1865. It had a population of  9,103,332 with 3,521,110 being slaves.

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It used The Confederacy Dollar as its currency and Confederate money began to be circulated in April, 1861. Throughout the next 4 years, approximately $1.7 billion worth of currency was issued. Most of the Confederate money was made using offset printing and lithographic processing because there were few skilled engravers in the South. Confederate money featured a number of unique images such as: mythological gods, African-American slaves and naval ships. One bank-note did feature George Washington. Due to Union embargoes, precious metals were difficult to come by in the South. This was also impacted by the fact that most of the general metals were being used in the war effort. Despite this, the Confederacy was able to produce a one cent piece and a half-dollar. After the war, much of the paper currency was destroyed. Only a few examples of Confederate currency still exist, making it highly valuable.

surprisingly, during the Civil War, The Confederate Congress insisted on equal pay. Meaning the black slaves that fought for them were to receive the same pay as white soldiers. The Union army however, did not follow this and black Union soldiers were paid less than white soldiers. A black soldier in the Union army would have been paid $10 a month with a $3 clothing fee taken out, leaving the soldier with $7 a month. White soldiers were paid $13 a month and were not forced to pay a clothing allowance, which is almost twice as much as the black soldiers. By contrast the Confederate army paid their privates of both races $11/month until 1864. Equal pay for both races in the federal army did not come into effect until June 1864. The Confederate Army also authorized a salary for black musicians in 1862.

While slavery was a big cause of the Civil War, In 1864, the Confederate States actually began to abandon slavery. There are some indications that even without a war, the Confederacy would have ended slavery. Most historians believe that the Confederacy only started to abandon slavery once their defeat was imminent. If that were true then we are to believe that the CSA wanted independence more than they wanted to hold on to slavery. The CSA’s highest ranking generals, Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston were not slave holders and did not believe in slavery. And according to an 1860 census, only 31% of families owned slaves. 75% of families that owned slaves owned less than 10 and often worked beside them in the fields. The Confederate Constitution banned the overseas slave trade, and permitted Confederate states to abolish slavery within their borders if they wanted to do so. Slavery wasn’t abolished until 1868, 3 years after the war. Thus Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware still had slaves.

Jefferson Davis was the first and only President of The Confederacy, with Alexander Stevens as its Vice President. Jefferson Davis was a planter, politician, and soldier. While in the army he fell in love and married Sara Taylor, President Zachary Taylor’s daughter. Unfortunately, the pair contracted malaria and Sara died. Shortly after her death Davis led a secluded life for the next 8 years on his plantation in Mississippi.

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In 1845 he married his second wife Varina Howell and in the same year, he was elected to Congress. Together he and Varina had 6 children. 2 girls and 4 boys. but only their daughters would live until adulthood. Davis withdrew from the Senate in January, 1861.

But when Lincoln threatened to end slavery and made other decisions unpopular with the South, The Confederacy was formed  in the Montgomery Convention in February 1861 (before Lincoln’s inauguration in March) and was disintegrated in April and May 1865. It was formed by delegations from seven Southern slave states that had proclaimed their secession from the Union.

The Confederate Congress selected Jefferson Davis to become the provisional President of the Confederacy. The following year he was inaugurated for a six-year term as President. He was a compromise candidate chosen to appease the moderate and radical factions in the Confederate Congress.

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But Davis never actually wanted to be President. he had hoped for a military command to prevent an armed conflict. If he had got that command, maybe the civil war would have never broke out. His first act as President was to send a peace commissioner to Washington D.C. Lincoln refused to see the Southern emissaries and decided to send armed ships to Charleston, South Carolina to resupply the beleaguered Union garrison at Fort Sumter. Davis ordered the bombardment of the Fort which marked the beginning of the American Civil War.

Chances are, if you had been a betting person in those days, you would have bet on the South to win the war. All the South had to do was hold their territory, it was the North that had to come in and take it. At the Battle of Bull Run, General Lee demonstrated his full superiority. In a battle that only lasted 10 minutes, The Yankee 5th New York Regiment lost more men than any regiment in the entire war. The Confederates killed almost 1,700 men at Bull Run. It was the greatest victory for the South at that point.

Lincoln’s term for all members of The Confederate military and Government officials was “insurgents”. That especially applied to Jefferson Davis. Davis was a popular President with a distinguished military record, extensive political experience and most importantly, dedication to the Confederate cause.

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On April 2, 1865, he and other members of the Confederate government were forced to flee from Richmond in th face of the advancing Union army. Davis was at church when he heard about the South surrendering. A week later, General Robert E. Lee signed the treaty at Appomattox. Jefferson was captured by Northern soldiers. He lost his citizenship but it was reinstated in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. Jefferson died in New Orleans in 1889.

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