Formed in February 1861, the Confederate States of America consisted of 11 southern states that seceded from the United States of America after the election of President Abraham Lincoln because they believed their lifestyle based on the institution of slavery was threatened.
While the Confederacy originally tried by peaceful means to separate from the Union, Lincoln would not stand for a split country, so the two halves went to war, with President Jefferson Davis from Mississippi leading the South.
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Fighting erupted in Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.
The constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted on March 11, 1861, and used much of the exact language of the Constitution with exceptions that allowed slavery and gave the president a six-year term.
Central to the creation of the new constitution was states’ rights. While the founding document was similar, several rights were given to the Confederate states, including allowing states to form treaties between each other, place taxes on imports from other states, issue their own currency, and impeach federal judges within the states.
Though at first centralization of government was resisted — states wanted their troops to remain in their own territory — Davis eventually gained power as a commander in chief, centralizing the army.
The largest problem in the new nation, however, was its poverty: It only had $27 million. When fundraisers failed, paper money stimulated inflation, but high taxes became a burden. The government resorted to impressment of private property, which hurt the South’s morale.
With difficulty filling the ranks, the first draft in American history was issued in April of 1862.
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The Congress of the Confederacy promoted industry for ships and supplies needed to fight the North, and manufacturing increased in the agriculturally based economy of the South.
When a call for foreign assistance came up dry, the South went on a losing streak with the eventual end of the Confederacy at Appomattox when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia.
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