Monday, March 11, 2013

Confederate Constitution adopted, March 11,  1861

“The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the Negro in our form of civilization.  This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.
"The prevailing ideas entertained by Jefferson and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature. . . Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone 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."
~ Alexander Stephens, Vice President, Confederate States of America 

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted on March 11, 1861, and in effect through the conclusion of the Civil War. 

In regard to most articles of the Constitution, the document is a word-for-word duplicate of the United States Constitution.  However, there are crucial differences between the two documents, in tone and legal content, and having to do with the topics of slavery and states' rights.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 made slaves a sancrosanct type of property within the Confederacy, with special protection under law. “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1 guaranteed the right of slaveholders to freely transit and stay with their slaves unmolested within any state of the Confederacy. “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

Slavery constitutes one of the most significant differences between the United States Constitution and the Confederate.

Slavery would not have been such an important part of the permanent Confederate constitution had slavery not been the reason for the founding of a slaveholders’ republic.

It is not necessary to condemn such men as evil, because they dealt with the world as they were born into it and knew it. Few of us can honestly claim that we would do better if placed into identical circumstances.
However, it is absolutely necessary to honor their own explanations for why they did what they did, and to acknowledge that the cause for which they fought was evil.
Had they succeeded, the United States of America would not exist, and the forced servitude of millions of black Americans would have continued for generations.
~ Jay Bookman 

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