Friday, February 19, 2010

The Confederate Constitution vs. The United States Constitution

On February 22, 1862, Jefferson Davis was formally inaugurated as the first President of the Confederate States of America (he had been made provisional president a year before). The new Confederate Constitution provided that Davis would serve a single six-year term as president. This was a change from the United States Constitution, which originally allowed its president to serve an unlimited number of four-year terms.

The Confederate Constitution was indeed modeled on the United States Constitution, but it contained several crucial changes of wording, which reflected southerners' perceived flaws in the original Constitution of 1787. These differences help explain why southern leaders had taken the drastic step of leading their states out of the Union.

Have your students compare the Confederate Constitution to the United States Constitution. Specifically, have your students look at the following sections of the two frames of government: the Preamble; Article I, section 1; Article I, section 7; Article I, section 8; Article I, section 9; Article IV, section 2; Article V. Have them discuss why the Confederate delegates made the changes in wording to the United States Constitution. What do these changes indicate about the political philosophy of the South in contrast to that of the North?