1861: The Confederate States of America (CSA) is formed. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas voted to create a government separate from that of the United States of America. These seven southern states had an economy based on agriculture which was dependent on slaves. During the 1860 elections, many in the South were fearful of Abraham Lincoln taking the White House. His opposition to the expansion of slavery was a threat to the way of life south of the Mason-Dixon line. Before he could take office in March, they left the Union and created their own state, which the North considered an illegal act.
After the Civil War began, four more states – Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee – joined the CSA. They also accepted Missouri and Kentucky as members although neither of these two states ever officially seceded. The Union or original US did not recognize this new government and the Civil War began on April 12, 1861 when the Confederacy fired upon Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, four states issued statements as to their reasons for secession and each of them listed a threat against slaveholders’ rights as a major cause of leaving a Union. Although Lincoln did not campaign to erase slavery from where it existed, he did vow to stop its expansion.
The Montgomery Convention was the location for the origination of the new country. Montgomery, Alabama saw the provisional President, Jefferson Davis, elected as well. They opened ceremonies on this day, and by February 8 they adopted the Provisional Confederate States Constitution and the began the process of governance with their own Congress with John Tyler (10th US President) serving in this body. From Montgomery came a call for 100,000 men from various state militias to defend the newly formed country. All federal property was seized as was all gold bullion in the three US mints found in the South.
Montgomery served as the new nation’s capital until May 29, 1861. Richmond, Virginia became the new capital and the last sessions of the Provisional government were held there. The Civil War dragged on with over a half million deaths, mostly fought on Southern soil, until the South’s military collapse on April 9, 1965. With the war over, the never internationally recognized CSA was dissolved on May 5, 1865. The international community regarded the renegade state as a local problem. The United Kingdom and France both had granted it belligerent status, but failed to ever formally recognize the CSA as a separate country. After the war, Jefferson Davis noted the Confederacy had simply “disappeared”.
Our new government is founded upon exactly [this] idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. – Alexander Stephens, CSA Vice President
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. – Abraham Lincoln
The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. – Jim Webb
Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery. – Plato