Congress Ratifies Confederate Constitution

The states that left the American Union in 1860 and 1861 brought with them a rich tradition of constitutionalism.

Many Southern Leaders explained their support for secession in terms of the failure of the Federal compact. Most blamed Northerners for failing to live up to their obligations, although some thought it was structural flaws in the U.S. Constitution that made secession necessary.

The Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America signed on February 8, 1861, created a compact among six Deep South states. The Permanent Confederate Constitution, signed on March 11, 1861, created a political structure for what became the eleven-state Confederate nation. Both documents were similar to the U.S. Constitution. The differences between the two reflected the political struggles that had led to secession.

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was the supreme law of the Confederate States of America, as adopted on March 11, 1861 and in effect through the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Confederacy also operated under a Provisional Constitution from February 8, 1861 to March 11, 1861. The original, hand-written document is currently located in the University of Georgia archives at Athens, Georgia.

In regard to most articles of the Constitution, the document is a word-for-word duplicate of the United States Constitution. The major differences between the two constitutions was the Confederacy's greater emphasis on the rights of individual member states, and an explicit support of slavery.